Trump influence faces test in Alaska in Tuesday primaries

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – One of the most divisive names in politics is heavily involved in Tuesday’s Alaska’s primaries. That name is Trump. The former president endorsed candidates in the House and Senate races as Alaskans prepare to head to the polls.

He’s endorsing loyal candidates who fit his conservative brand, but it remains to be seen just how much sway he still has in the state.

“That endorsement is so powerful for me,” said Kelly Tshibaka, the Trump-backed candidate for U.S. Senate.

She is trying to unseat a 20-year incumbent in Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), so Tshibaka gladly accepts the Trump seal of approval. She points to Trump’s consecutive double-digit victories in two presidential elections in the state. And Tshibaka thinks his anti-establishment message could help defeat a well-established Murkowski.

“The only way you can dominate the race and be the candidate who is going to pull ahead and win is with strong endorsements like President Trump,” said Tshibaka.

Trump pledged to campaign against Murkowski after she voted to impeach him following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. The former president still clings to unfounded claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. We brought the question to Tshibaka.

“I think there are still questions and concerns about what happened,” said Tshibaka. “But I can absolutely say Joe Biden is the president.”

Dr. Stephen Haycox is a professor emeritus at University of Alaska Anchorage. The Alaska historian says Trump is undeniably popular in the state but does not think that will increase Tshibaka’s popularity.

“I don’t think that Trump’s coattails are going to serve particularly well. I think Lisa Murkowski is very well known in the state,” said Haycox.

Haycox says Alaskans prioritize state concerns like energy, economic, and Native Alaskan issues. As for Murkowski, she says she understands she has a target on her back.

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“I’m not worried about that. What I’m worried about is the state of Alaska. What I’m worried about is our future,” said Murkowski.

Alaska voters will give us a clearer picture just how much sway the former president has in this state Tuesday. Polls open at 7 a.m.

Copyright 2022 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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