Murkowski closes gap in Alaska’s US Senate race

Senator Lisa Murkowski speaks to her supporters at her election night party. “We are in a good place,” Murkowski told a rowdy crowd just after 11 pm in downtown Anchorage. (Photo by Elyssa Loughlin/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is now neck-and-neck with Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka after Tuesday’s vote count update from the Alaska Division of Elections.

U.S. House Rep. Democrat Mary Peltola is still far ahead of Republican rival Sarah Palin. Republican Nick Begich remains in third place.

So far, only first-choice votes have been counted. None of the congressional candidates appear on track to cross the 50% threshold. That means the outcome in both the House and Senate race will depend on second- and third-rankings. They’ll be tabulated Nov. 23.

The first updates of the week added about 27,000 votes to the total. Ballots counted Tuesday included absentee, questioned and early votes from all over the state.

The gap between Murkowski and Tshibaka has shrunk dramatically. Murkowski is behind by only 565 votes, down from 3,000. Both candidates have a little over 43% of the vote.

If Murkowski doesn’t pull ahead in the next update this week, she’ll likely make that up when Democrat Pat Chesbro is eliminated and her 21,000 ballots transferred to the voter’s second choice.

A large share of Chesbro voters are believed to have ranked Murkowski second, preferring her moderate position on abortion rights and willingness to work with Democrats.

Tshibaka is endorsed by former President Donald Trump and faults Murkowski for cooperating across the aisle and for being part of the “establishment.”

In the House race, Peltola has just over 48% of the vote, a slight increase from the last count on Nov. 10. Palin has 26% and Begich has nearly 24%.

Peltola and Palin both left Alaska shortly after the Nov. 8 election. Peltola has returned to Washington, D.C., where she is serving out the term of the late Alaska Congressman Don Young.

Palin was signing autographs at a sports card expo in Toronto on Saturday with her boyfriend, former National Hockey League player Ron Duguay.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Alaska Public Media

Alaska Public Media is our partner station in Anchorage. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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