Republican announces run for Murkowski’s Alaska Senate seat

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FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2019 fle photo, Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka addresses reporters in Anchorage, Alaska. Tshibaka announced plans on Monday, March 29, 2021, to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a fellow Republican, in the 2022 election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

JUNEAU, Alaska – An early Republican candidate announced plans Monday to seek the Alaska U.S. Senate seat that has been held since 2002 by Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Kelly Tshibaka, who has led the Alaska Department of Administration since early 2019, in a statement said she is running "for the Alaskans who believe government is of the people, by the people and for the people. The D.C. insiders need to be held accountable to us.”

Tshibaka posted on social media a copy of her resignation letter as department commissioner, dated Monday, and a campaign video referred to her as former commissioner. Alaska Gov. Dunleavy, in a statement appointing an acting commissioner, thanked Tshibaka for her service.

Murkowski is widely seen as a moderate and has at times been at odds with her party, including on issues such as abortion and in her criticism of former President Donald Trump. Her office in Washington on Monday said it could not speak on a campaign-related matter.

Murkowski was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump, who was acquitted in a trial last month of a charge of incitement of insurrection related to the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot. Earlier this month, state Republican Party leaders voted to censure Murkowski over that vote, with party leaders in some other states taking similar actions against Republicans who voted as she did.

Murkowski filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on March 9, records show. Speaking to reporters in Juneau last month, Murkowski did not directly answer whether she would seek reelection next year.

She said she is “doing what I should be doing to ensure that I have that option and that opportunity to run for yet another term.”

Tshibaka is among those who have been seen as possible candidates for the U.S. Senate race and over the last year or so has sought to raise her profile. She has used social media to promote her department's work, highlight her family and faith, express support for Republican candidates and outline stances on issues such as gun rights.