Voters in November can rank their top four candidates. If no candidate achieves a majority, officials will eliminate the last seat and reallocate his or her supporters’ votes to the voters’ second choice until one candidate has more than 50 percent of the vote.
While she’s never crossed that threshold in previous elections, Ms. Murkowski has overcome tough odds before: In 2010, she memorably triumphed in a nomination campaign after a stunning primary loss to a Tea Party challenger. That victory came largely thanks to a coalition of Alaska Natives and centrists.
Ms. Murkowski has used her seniority and her bipartisan credentials to plead her case before voters in Alaska, highlighting the billions of dollars she has sent to the state through her role on the Senate Credit Committee and her role in passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill of $1 trillion.
She draws on her friendships with Democrats such as Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and the legacies of Alaska legislators such as former Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young, who died in March, to show that there is still a place in Congress for its style of legislation .
“You have to show that there are other possibilities, that there is another reality – and maybe it won’t work,” Ms Murkowski said in an interview this year. “Maybe I’m just being politically naive and this ship has left. But I won’t know unless we — unless I — stay there and give Alaskans a chance to weigh in.”
However, her challengers try to capitalize on the frustrations towards Ms. Murkowski in both sides. In addition to branding her as too liberal for the state, Ms. Tshibaka has harbored a lingering grudge over the way Ms. Murkowski’s father, Frank, chose her to finish his term as senator when he became governor in 2002.
Alyce McFadden reporting contributed.