As Republicans push to gain control of the House and Senate in the midterm elections, one GOP senator is backing her Democrat friend over multiple Republican candidates, including former Governor Sarah Palin.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) told reporters following an event in Anchorage that she is “so happy to welcome Mary Peltola as our representative for all of Alaska,” according to the Anchorage Daily News. Peltola, a Democrat, won a special election held in August to replace the late Rep. Don Young (R-AK), who died in March after serving as the state’s lone representative for nearly 50 years.
A reporter with the Anchorage Daily News asked the senator if she planned on putting Peltola’s name first on Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting ballot in November. Murkowski responded, “Yeah, I am,” later explaining that “Mary is a friend. … We have been friends for 25 years, and the fact that we’re Republican and Democrat has never interfered with that friendship.”
The Democrat has campaigned on fighting climate change, strengthening Obamacare, supporting abortion rights, and pushing for the leftist LGBTQ Equality Act. Peltola defeated Republicans Palin and Nick Begich III in a surprise victory for Democrats in Alaska’s first-ever ranked-choice voting election.
For the August special election, Palin, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the race, spent four times the amount of money spent by the Peltola campaign, according to Politico. The election surprised many, not only because Republicans have dominated in the state for decades, but also because Trump defeated President Joe Biden by 10 points in Alaska in 2020.
Murkowski often draws the ire of conservatives by breaking with party lines and joining Democrats in the Senate. Like her friend Peltola, Murkowski strongly supports abortion rights and even pushed to codify Roe v. Wade. The senator also famously joined former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Senate Democrats to stop a Republican attempt at repealing Obamacare in 2017, dealing a huge blow to the Trump administration in its first year.
The Alaska senator, who will also be on the ballot next month, stood by her support of a Democratic candidate in a red state during a contentious election cycle.
“I know that bothers some people who want me to be that rigid, partisan person, and I’m just not. I’m not, haven’t been, and I won’t be,” Murkowski said. “I do not toe the party line just because party leaders have asked or because it may be expected. My first obligation is to the people of the state of Alaska.”