ANCHORAGE — Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a centrist Republican facing a tough re-election campaign, plans on ranking Representative Mary Peltola, a Democrat, first on her ballot this November, crossing party lines to back the incumbent in her race to serve a full term in the House.
Sitting in a quiet backstage corner behind exhibitions and vendors at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention this weekend, Ms. Murkowski confirmed to The New York Times on Saturday her support for Ms. Peltola, who earlier this year overcame a chaotic field of four dozen candidates to finish the remainder of Representative Don Young’s term after he died in March.
Ms. Murkowski declined to say whether or how she would rank Ms. Peltola’s challengers: Sarah Palin, the former Republican governor and vice-presidential candidate, or Nicholas Begich III, a conservative member of an Alaskan liberal dynasty, both registered Republican candidates, or Chris Bye, a libertarian. Under Alaska’s new ranked-choice system, voters can rank their top three candidates, which are counted until at least one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote.
Ms. Murkowski brushed off the significance of her comment, describing it as “Lisa being honest” and adding that she was primarily focused on her own race, where she is fending off Kelly Tshibaka, a right-wing challenger endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump and the state’s Republican Party. Ms. Murkowski has also retained broad support from Alaska Native voters in the state, and they proved crucial to her write-in campaign in 2010. (Ms. Peltola told The Washington Post she also planned on voting for Ms. Murkowski, and they posed together for a photo at the convention.)
“Alaskans are going to go through the same process that I am, which is evaluating people, looking at their values and whether they represent them, and they will make that determination going forward,” Ms. Murkowski said.
But the comment underscored the broad coalition Ms. Peltola is assembling in her bid to remain the sole representative for the state’s 734,000 people, after being sworn in last month as the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress. At the convention, Ms. Peltola was feted with raucous cheers and emotional prayer songs and tributes, as attendees rang cowbells and waved cutouts of her face at the very mention of her name.
“We are in Mary’s house, and I know this,” Ms. Palin proclaimed at a candidate forum at the convention. “Doggone it, I never have anything, like, to gripe about — I just wish she’d convert on over to the other party.”
Ms. Palin, while quick to lavish Ms. Peltola, her longtime friend, with praise, made no mention of Mr. Begich, who also appeared and who siphoned away some conservative voters in the primary.
Source: NY Times