Under Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system, two Republicans are leading the race for the state’s Senate seat up for grabs this year. Incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is facing a stiff challenge from fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.
Murkowski, who has been in office for 21 years, is the favorite of the establishment GOP. She voted in favor of Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment of President Trump and is a pro-choice abortion advocate.
Tshibaka hammered Murkowski during a debate on Thursday evening, claiming the incumbent supports “extreme late-term abortions.” She cited votes in 2018 and 2020 that she said would allow abortions on demand “all the way up to when a baby is being born.”
Tshibaka proclaimed her pro-life beliefs and pointed to statements made by Murkowski that followed the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in June. The court’s decision returned the question of regulation or prohibition of abortion to the states individually.
Murkowski said that she supports full access to abortion everywhere “up to fetal viability.” Tshibaka argued that Murkowski supports “taxpayer-funded on-demand abortion up to the moment of birth.”
Murkowski admitted during the debate that she favors codifying Roe v. Wade as federal law that would apply everywhere in the U.S., but “not without limitation.” She said that the country “cannot go back 50 years.”
Candidate Kelly Tshibaka on abortion rights:
— Alaska's News Source (@AKNewsNow) October 28, 2022
Tshibaka said that she would call for a federal law that would place a nationwide bar against all abortions after the first trimester of pregnancy, or after an unborn child is capable of feeling pain in the womb.
When the topic turned to election security, Tshibaka said she would call for state-based security systems that would “promote transparency and accountability.” She stressed that she would oppose all efforts to “federalize elections.”
Murkowski simply said that elections should be “fair, transparent, free, and accessible,” without pointing to any specific initiatives she has supported during her tenure.
The candidates were also asked if they believed President Trump should testify before Pelosi’s January 6 Committee and if they think the former president has committed any crimes.
Murkowski said she believes Trump should testify but avoided whether she thinks he is guilty of any crimes. She added that “the process” will determine that question and described the issue as “something left unfinished in the minds of so many in this country.”
Tshibaka said she does not believe Alaskans are concerned about allegations against Trump or the January 6 investigation, saying she has not heard about it while campaigning in the state.
Recent polling shows Murkowski with a lead in the complex ranked-selection system Alaska has recently adopted, although Tshibaka has been closing the gap as Election Day approaches.