Incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) defeated Kelly Tshibaka (R), and Patricia Chesbro (D) in the general election for U.S. Senate in Alaska on November 8, 2022.
The three candidates advanced from the top-four primary held on August 16, 2022, the first time Alaska used such a system in a Senate race since voters there approved it in 2020. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, ran in a single primary. Murkowski, Tshibaka, Chesbro, and Buzz Kelley (R) received the most votes and advanced to the general election, where the winner was decided using ranked-choice voting.
On September 12, 2022, Kelley withdrew from the race and endorsed Tshibaka. His name still appeared on the ballot.
Murkowski and Tshibaka led in media attention and together won more than 80% of the primary vote, with Murkowski receiving 45% and Tshibaka receiving 38.6%. In July, FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley and Zoha Qamar wrote, “the ranked choice voting process seems likely to set up a contest between the two leading Republicans, [Murkowski and Tshibaka]”.
Murkowski first took office in 2002. Lisa Murkowski’s father, Frank Murkowski (R), was a senator from 1981 to 2002, when he resigned to become governor of Alaska. After taking office, the elder Murkowski appointed his daughter to the U.S. Senate seat. After losing the Republican Senate primary in 2010, Lisa Murkowski successfully ran for re-election as a write-in candidate, becoming the second senator in U.S. history to do so. In 2016, Murkowski was re-elected after defeating second-place finisher Joe Miller (L) 44.4% to 29.2%.
Murkowski highlighted her seniority and said her willingness to work with Democrats helped steer federal funding to Alaska. Murkowski said, “This race is about who can deliver best for Alaska. Through my seniority and ability to work across party lines, I’m getting real results for Alaska.” Murkowski also highlighted her support for energy development in the state and said her vote for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act had already brought billions to Alaska.
Tshibaka, a former commissioner at the Alaska Department of Administration, accused Murkowski of not using her seniority to block more of President Joe Biden’s (D) agenda. Tshibaka said, “Lisa Murkowski has enabled Biden’s agenda by casting the tie-breaking deciding vote to advance his anti-energy Interior Secretary nominee and confirming over 90% of his radical nominees.” Tshibaka also focused on economic issues and said she supports a Parental Bill of Rights that would give parents “a right to be fully informed and to approve of any sex education, gender identification, or race theory material being presented or discussed with their child.”
In February 2021, Murkowski voted to convict then-President Donald Trump (R) after the U.S. House impeached him over the events surrounding the January 6 breach of the Capitol. In June 2021, Trump endorsed Tshibaka. The Republican Party of Alaska also endorsed Tshibaka.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and fellow Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) endorsed Murkowski. Murkowski also had the endorsements of several Democratic elected officials, including Alaska’s At-Large U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (D), Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D).
Chesbro, a retired educator, highlighted her support for renewable energy. In her responses to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, Chesbro said, “We cannot turn off the spigot on fossil fuels. We can invest in our future through developing our renewable resources to create the energy on which we depend.” Chesbro also focused on her support for abortion rights.
In addition to the candidates on the ballot, write-in candidates included Joe Stephens (Independent), Ted Gianoutsos (Nonpartisan), Shoshana Gungurstein (Nonpartisan), and Sid Hill (Nonpartisan).
Democrats retained their majority in the U.S. Senate in 2022. As of November 28, Democrats had won 50 seats to Republicans’ 49, with the Senate election in Georgia headed to a December 6 runoff.