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GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski defeats Trump-backed challenger Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska
Photo (left): Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Photo (right): Spencer Platt/Getty Images

GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski defeats Trump-backed challenger Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska

Incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has defeated Trump-backed GOP challenger Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska's U.S. Senate contest.

"Thank you, Alaska. I am honored that Alaskans – of all regions, backgrounds and party affiliations – have once again granted me their confidence to continue working with them and on their behalf in the U.S. Senate. I look forward to continuing the important work ahead of us," Murkowski tweeted on Wednesday.

"It's clear from the ranked choice tabulations that Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been re-elected, and I congratulate her on that," Tshibaka said in a statement. "The new election system has been frustrating to many Alaskans, because it was indisputably designed as an incumbent-protection program, and it clearly worked as intended."

Murkowski's win in the ranked choice contest came after none of the candidates had secured more than 50% based on people's first-choice votes.

"If a candidate gets 50% + 1 vote in round one, that candidate wins and the counting stops. If not, counting goes to Round Two," the Alaska Division of Elections explains. During round two, "The candidate with the fewest votes gets eliminated. If you voted for that candidate, your vote goes to your next choice and you still have a say in who wins. If your first choice candidate was not eliminated, your vote stays with them. Votes are counted again," the Alaska Division of Elections states. "This keeps happening in rounds until two candidates are left and the one with the most votes wins."

Murkowski, who has served in the U.S. Senate for nearly two decades, was one of the seven Republican senators who voted to convict former President Donald Trump last year after the House of Representatives voted to impeach the president during the tail end of his term. The Senate vote occurred after Trump had already departed from office, and Trump was ultimately acquitted since the total number of votes to convict fell short of the threshold required for a conviction.

Murkowski was one of the three GOP senators who voted to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While Trump issued a full-throated endorsement of Tshibaka last year, he had previously said that he would back anyone with a a pulse who chose to run against Murkowski.

"Few people know where they’ll be in two years from now, but I do, in the Great State of Alaska (which I love) campaigning against Senator Lisa Murkowski," Trump tweeted in June 2020. "Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don’t care, I'm endorsing. If you have a pulse, I'm with you!"

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