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Tipsheet

So, That's Why Lisa Murkowski Was Reportedly Silent About the New Voting System in Alaska

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Donald Trump revenge tour is in full swing. The former president has again proven that the 2016 makeover of the Republican Party was no one-off fluke. It was a seismic shift regarding the composition of the party base, which is bluer collar and working class, and the priorities of its voters. The neo-populist moment that burst onto the scene in the 2010 midterms with the Tea Party wave reached full maturation during the 2016 cycle. In 2022, Donald Trump’s endorsement not only carries weight—virtually all his endorsed candidates have won their primary races—he’s picking off those who joined the effort to impeach him on the bogus charges manufactured by congressional Democrats

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) of Alaska is next. Murkowski and Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) form a trio that has become a political bone spur to Republicans. When there is a vote where total Republican Party unity is required, they’re dithering on the sidelines. Murkowski voted to confirm Vanita Gupta, one of Biden's most radical DOJ nominees, to her position at the Department of Justice as associate attorney general. Murkowski faces a challenge from Kelly Tshibaka, who is Trump endorsed.

Murkowski got an endorsement from the state’s AFL-CIO chapter. Need I say more about Ms. Lisa? She also doesn’t care about the shifts within the party. She’s already survived one attempt to purge her and successfully fended it off in a write-in candidacy in 2010. Murkowski lost her primary to Joe Miller during the Tea Party wave. She couldn’t care less what you think of her—and she’s as independent as ever. 

The one thing that could save her again for this contest is how Alaska holds its primaries. It’s through a ranked-choice voting system, which appears geared to protect incumbents. The Washington Post had a good explainer of how this voting system works:

First, a quick primer on ranked-choice voting: Ranked-choice voting lets voters mark their first-choice candidate first, their second-choice candidate second, their third-choice candidate third, and so on. Each voter has only one vote but can indicate their backup choices.

If one candidate has an outright majority (more than 50 percent) of first-place rankings, that candidate wins, just like a traditional election. But if no candidate has a majority in the first round, the candidate in last place is eliminated. Voters who had ranked that candidate first have their votes transferred to their backup — that is, the candidate they ranked second.

In a single-winner election (now used in Maine, Alaska, San Francisco and the Australian House, among other places), the ranking transfer process continues until a single candidate gathers a majority.

In other words, Murkowski has the option of running as an independent in 2022 or forming her own party. She can then attract votes from Democrats and Republicans, while allowing her Democratic and Republican supporters to still have a backup vote for a Democrat or Republican, ensuring the vote won’t be wasted if Murkowski finishes third in the initial round.

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And that brings us to Project Veritas who captured a Murkowski aide explaining how they’re hoping to rig the election


In the video, Josiah Nash, who works as the campaign’s Interior Coordinator, is recorded admitting that while Sen. Murkowski was publicly neutral, she secretly supported the implementation of a ranked voting system in Alaska because that is her route to victory.

“She stayed quiet and honestly it was probably best she stayed quiet on that,” Nash said, adding that “she supports it, yeah.” 

[...]

Nash suggests Measure 2 was not honestly presented to Alaskans and helps progressive candidates.

“They framed it [Ballot Measure 2] basically, you know, ‘This gives you more choice’ -- ‘This makes it so we have better candidates.’  And I think it helps progressive candidates…If it was [called] a progressive measure, it wouldn’t really work,” he said.

Another paid Murkowski campaign official, Emma Ashlock, echoed Nash’s comments; admitting on camera that Ballot Measure 2 secretly benefited Sen. Murkowski and that several people who currently work in the Murkowski campaign were previously involved in passing Ballot Measure 2. One of those people is Shea Siegert, Murkowski’s Comms Director.

“I know a lot of people who were working on Ballot Measure 2. I don’t think Shea has ever worked for Senator Murkowski [before], but I know a lot of other people who worked on that have worked for Senator Murkowski,” she said.

“While we were working on Ballot Measure 2 and voting for Ballot Measure 2, we had Senator Murkowski in mind the whole time,” Ashlock said.

[...]

“From our data guys, Tyler and Roman, they say the race is gonna come down to Kelly Tshibaka and Senator Murkowski. So, anyone who votes for Pat Chesbro first and ranks Senator Murkowski second, that vote is gonna become a vote for Senator Murkowski… Every single Pat Chesbro voter who ranks Senator Murkowski second, we get their votes. If we can get people to do that, then we have it in the bag,” she said.

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Some of Murkowski’s top staffers had previously worked to pass the ballot initiative that established ranked voting in the state that would benefit the incumbent senator, which also explains her reported silence on the measure. Now, that’s some swampy stuff right there. 

I will tip my hat to Murkowski for being one of the few candidates to mount a successful write-in effort following a primary loss, but that’s over. This primary will be another test of the Trump moment, as the establishment has packed enough sandbags around Murkowski to scale Mount Fuji. Alaskans go to the polls on August 16, the same day as Wyoming Republicans, who are sure to end the public career of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). At least one RINO is going down that night. Two would be better. 

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