Incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), her Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka, and Democrat Patricia Chesbro will advance to the general election in November as the projected winners of Alaska’s ranked-choice primary on Aug. 16.
With about 50 percent of the ballots counted, Murkowski has 43 percent and Tshibaka 42 percent, according to DecisionDeskHQ.
Republican Buzz Kelley is the fourth top-voter getter under Alaska’s new top-four system.
Chesbro, who ran unopposed as a Democrat, currently has about 6 percent of the vote.
All four candidates will appear on the single ballot of the general election on Nov. 8.
Alaska election officials had received more than 12,000 ballots in early voting, while Murkowski and Tshibaka campaigned hard in the final days before the primary election.
Murkowski reportedly spent $1.1 million on campaign ads, focusing on her base and on critical local issues such as Alaska’s fishing and veterans benefits.
Tshibaka recently spent $173,000 on media advertising, much of it critical of her opponent who was portrayed as a politician out of touch with Alaska’s conservative Republican base.
An average of the most recent polls showed Murkowski leading Tshibaka by a slim 3-percent margin of 51 to 48, which was consistent with a July 5 Alaska Survey Research poll. Other polls showed varying results.
Murkowski took office in 2002 when her father, Frank Murkowski, appointed her to his own U.S. Senate seat, which he vacated upon being elected Alaska’s governor.
She is the second most senior female in the Senate after Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Murkowski ran afoul of former President Donald Trump when she and seven other Republican senators voted to convict him of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol protest during his second impeachment trial.
Also, her co-sponsorship of a bipartisan bill to codify federal abortion protections formerly provided under Roe v. Wade served to disaffect conservative voters in the Last Frontier state.
The recent FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida may have further galvanized support for the former president and the America First platform candidates he has endorsed.
In a special general election to fill the vacant seat of late U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) until January, Democrat Mary Peltola currently leads with 37 percent with Republicans Sarah Palin trailing with 33 percent and Nick Begich III with 29 percent.
Peltola is currently ahead with 35 percent in the open primary which is for a two-year seat as Alaska’s District 1 representative in the U.S. House. Trump-endorsed Palin has 32 percent, and Begich has 27 percent. Republican Tara Sweeney trails a distant fourth with 3 percent.
In a 48-way special primary on June 11, Palin captured 27 percent of the vote in the June 11 special primary while Begich came away with 19 percent, and Peltola 10 percent. Sen. Young, who died on March 18 at 88, served Alaska in the U.S. House 49 years.
Palin, 58, was the ninth governor of Alaska from 2006 until her resignation in 2009. The late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) chose Palin as his running mate in 2008 to run against Democrat Barack Obama and vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden.