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Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski Announces Reelection Bid After Swipe at Her Trump-Backed Rival: 'I Don't Know Her'

People logo People 11/12/2021 Aaron Parsley
Lisa Murkowski © Ian Forsyth/Getty Images Lisa Murkowski

Ian Forsyth/Getty Images Lisa Murkowski © Provided by People Ian Forsyth/Getty Images Lisa Murkowski

Alaska's Lisa Murkowski wants to keep her seat in the U.S. Senate — and she's ready to fight for it.

The Republican, who's served as a senator since 2002, announced her reelection campaign on Friday with an ad that paints her as a respected and independent politician with a long list of accomplishments.

"I'm Lisa Murkowski and I love Alaska with all my heart. I'm proud to call this special place my home and honored to be your voice in the United States Senate," Murkowski, 64, says in the ad. "I'm running for reelection to continue the important work of growing our economy, strengthening our Alaska-based military and protecting our people and the natural beauty of our state."

Murkowski will have to beat fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka, a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner, whose campaign website greets visitors with a key message: "Proud to Be Endorsed by President Trump."

"To have his strong endorsement is great news for our campaign and even better news for the people of Alaska, because it means we will be getting our Senate seat back from Lisa Murkowski," Tshibaka said in a statement after she was endorsed by the former president in June.

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"Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska," Trump said in his endorsement. "Kelly is a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America First. She is MAGA all the way."

Tshibaka, who describes herself as "conservative, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and American First," has repeatedly tried to connect Joe Biden and the Democrats' agenda to Murkowski, who voted for the president's infrastructure bill and also to convict Trump on impeachment charges following the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January.

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Murkowski, however, has already offered a glimpse at a line of attack her challenger will face.

Mark Thiessen/AP/Shutterstock Kelly Tshibaka © Provided by People Mark Thiessen/AP/Shutterstock Kelly Tshibaka

"She's got a problem with her fishing license and residency problem," Murkowski said in an October CNN interview, alluding to Alaskan Wildlife Troopers' investigation into whether Tshibaka obtained a resident sportfishing license in 2019, only eight months after moving back to the state.

To qualify for a resident license in Alaska, those applying must have lived in the state for 12 consecutive months immediately preceding their application. According to the Anchorage Daily News, Tshibaka — who was born in Anchorage but left Alaska at age 15 until January 2019 — said she'd lived in in the state for 15 years and 8 months on her application.

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Prosecutors declined to charge Tshibaka but she was cited and fined $270 for commercial fishing without a crew license in a separate incident after she appeared in a campaign ad using commercial gear.

"Alaskans take their fishing very seriously," Murkowski said in the CNN interview, which included additional comments she made to frame Tshibaka as an outsider.

"I don't know her," Murkowski told CNN. "She just came back to the state a couple years ago."

In Murkowski's new campaign video, she went even further without naming Tshibaka.

"In this election, lower 48 outsiders are going to try and grab Alaska's Senate seat for their partisan agendas. They don't understand our state and frankly they couldn't care less about your future," she said.

"My commitment to Alaska is the same one I made during my first campaign," Murkowski continued. "I will work with anyone from either party to advance Alaska's priorities. And I will always stand up to any politician or special interest that threatens our way of life."

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