ABC News reports that Alaska’s incumbent senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, is expected to win re-election against another Republican opponent, Trump-backed Kelly Tshibaka, and that Democrat Mary Peltola, the first Alaskan native elected to Congress, is likely who will win her reelection seat against Republican challenger Sarah Palin.
The projections come after the Alaska Division of Elections announced the results of the state’s new ranked voting system on Wednesday night and include some of the final outstanding races of the 2022 midterm elections.
Even with the Murkowski prognosis, power in the Democrat-controlled US Senate remains at 50-49 as the last remaining Senate candidates in Alaska were both Republicans. The final outcome of the Senate seat count will be determined by a December 6 runoff in Georgia between incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker.
With Peltola’s projected victory, Democrats have 213 seats in a Republican-controlled House.
The unusually close contests included Murkowski, a moderate Republican who supports abortion rights and voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, and Tshibaka, a staunch Trump supporter who previously served as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration .
Peltola, who became the first Democrat to be re-elected since the early 1970s, faced a rematch with former Republican vice presidential nominee Palin — and all races were determined by a lengthy pre-ranked voting process because none of the candidates ran in the Alaskan Senate races or House of Representatives received 50% of the vote on November 8th.
Under the new voting system sanctioned by the Alaskans in 2020, contests in which neither candidate reached the majority mark eliminated the person who ended with the lowest number of votes. When a voter chose that last candidate, their vote then goes to their second choice. If a voter’s first choice is not eliminated, their vote remains with that candidate. The votes are then counted again.
A passionate ally of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Murkowski served in the Senate for 20 years after her father resigned to become Governor of Alaska and appointed her to his place. Murkowski is the only Republican senator this year to vote to convict Trump in his impeachment trial — a political goal of the former president, who said she was “one of the worst senators imaginable.” Murkowski also opposed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court.
However, Tshibaka was ahead of incumbent Murkowski until Friday. As the race entered the second round, Tshibaka had 44% of 71% of the expected votes, followed by Murkowski at 43%, Democratic nominee Patricia Chesbro at 10%, and Republican nominee Buzz Kelley at 3%.
On the news that she anticipated Murkowski’s campaign tweeted a GIF mocking their Republican challenger. After Democrat Mary Peltola’s victory in a special election for Alaska’s House seat earlier this year, Republicans heavily criticized Alaska’s nominated poll.
“And just like that… Kelly’s claim that she only lost by ranking vote was gone,” reads the text that accompanies the GIF.
The Murkowski campaign said Monday they were not concerned about the likelihood that the incumbent might not be victorious, stating that any outstanding votes “would be in favor of Lisa Murkowski.”
Peltola also did not cross the 50 percent threshold on Nov. 8, but easily won the House seat during a special election in August when a similar ranking scenario took place to fill the seat of Rep. Don Young, a Republican who died March, after representing the state in the House of Representatives for nearly half a century.
ABC News’ Nadine El-Bawab and Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.