3 women compete in U.S. Senate race

3 women compete in U.S. Senate race
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 8:19 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In the battle for the U.S. Senate, candidates from both sides of the aisle are fighting to help take control of the Senate.

In Alaska, a trio of women — two Republicans and one Democrat — are vying for voters’ No. 1 slots on this year’s ranked-choice ballot: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent and current senior senator for the state; Kelly Tshibaka, a fellow republican, who was first backed in 2020 by former President Donald Trump; and Patricia Chesbro, the lone Democrat on the ballot.

Like their platforms, they each have different approaches as Alaskans arrive at Election Day 2022, but only one can take the Senate seat that’s up for grabs this year.

Policy-wise, the three vary greatly from one another. Only Tshibaka has stated that she is in favor of a constitutional convention. Tshibaka is also the lone Senate candidate to claim that there are unanswered questions about the 2020 presidential election results.

Regarding privacy and abortion rights, Chesbro had said she is purely “pro-choice,” while Tshibaka has maintained a “pro-life” stance, and Murkowski said during a recent debate that she supports codifying the recently-overturned Roe v. Wade decision in order to protect the right to abortion.

The latter two do have some common ground, however, including that neither of them supports banning assault weapons, while Chesbro does. Tshibaka, however, has used Murkowski’s support of the Safer Communities Act — a piece of bipartisan legislation designed to help reduce gun violence across America — as a top criticism of Murkowski, with Tshibaka referring to the senator’s vote as being in favor of “extreme Biden gun control.”

Murkowski is also one of seven GOP senators who voted in favor of convicting Trump during his second impeachment trial. Tshibaka, on the other hand, is backed by him, with Trump targeting Murkowski and vowing two years ago to support anyone who went against her.

“I’ve had a little bit of a target on my back from the former president,” Murkowski said, “since I voted as I did on the impeachment, and I recognized that that would likely draw, likely draw his opposItion into a campaign. But I could not let that factor into the decision that I had to make.”

Tshibaka, welcoming the endorsement, said she’s looking to the future.

“We want to know what kinds of favors are being exchanged behind closed doors at the expense of us Alaskans,” she said. “I’m just not going to roll that way. It’s always got to be about Alaska first, what’s in it for us, and how are we going to be fighting for us.”

Chesbro, a longtime educator, said in response to a question about Trump and Sen. Minority Mitch McConnell getting involed in the race that she simply wants lawmakers to try and work together.

“I think it affects the whole country,” she said. “I think we need to get off the divisiveness and start working together; the whole country is affected when we can’t figure out how to find the middle ground and move toward it.”

The primary, with about 32% of registered voters casting ballots, had Murkowski leading with about 45% of the vote. Tshibaka was next, with about 39% of ballots tallied, and Chesbro pulled about 7% of the vote. Buzz Kelley, a Republican who would later withdraw from the race, saw about 2% of the vote to advance to the runoff.

Between the two Republicans, who together led the summer primary, Murkowski has pointed to her own record of votes that she says has helped to push Alaskan policy forward.

“I have been a leader in these spaces,” Murkowski said. “I am known and I am recognized as the Arctic leader in the Congress. I’ve been delivering results for Alaska, and I think Alaskans want to see from their elected officials, and I’ve been doing just that.”

Tshibaka, meanwhile, touts herself as a candidate who will bring change.

“You’ve gotta pick who you stand with,” she said. “Do you stand with the American families, and the workers who are being crushed, or are you going to stand with Joe Biden, and these radical environmentalists, and the special interests who have ties to the White House? That’s what this election is coming down to.”

As for Chesbro, she says she wants people to stick to their values, and to remember that it’s not just one choice that voters get on this year’s ballot.

“It’s really important with ranked-choice voting this year to vote your values and not your fears,” Chesbro said. “And, it’s very important that if I am closer to your values, rank me No.1.”

It’s up to voters to decide which candidates will serve them — and Alaska — best in the U.S. Capitol.

Polls open across Alaska at 7 a.m. on November 8. The Division of Elections says its target date to certify the general election is Nov. 29.