Alaska Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka, a Trump supporter who claimed voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, has announced her intention to challenge incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski for the U.S. Senate.
On March 9, Murkowski filed a statement of candidacy for the 2022 U.S. Senate election, with the Federal Election Commission.
Tshibaka said Monday that she will resign her post as commissioner, effective immediately, to campaign against Murkowski. Tshibaka has held the post since 2019.
The Department of Administration oversees the Division of Motor Vehicles, Personnel and Labor Relations and an office that oversees and manages technology infrastructure for the executive branch.
Tshibaka's announcement follows an Alaska state Republican Party vote in March to find a challenger against the incumbent senator for criticizing former President Donald Trump and voting to impeach him. Murkowski has served as Alaska U.S. senator since 2002.
Tshibaka is an Alaska native and Harvard law school graduate who co-founded an evangelical church, the Lighthouse Fellowship, with husband and fellow lawyer, Niki Tshibaka, where they are co-pastors. The couple has five children and lives in Anchorage.
Tshibaka previously worked in Washington, D.C., as chief data officer for the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Postal Service, under Presidents Trump and Obama.
In 2019, Alaska columnist Dermot Cole published an opinion piece on Tshibaka's then-new role as commissioner. He wrote that Tshibaka published “controversial” columns while a law student at Harvard, including an article stating, “Unlike race or gender, homosexuality is a choice.”
Upon joining the Department of Administration in 2019, Tshibaka wrote on Facebook: “Alaska has always been #1 in my heart, but it's been coming in near last place in the nation for education, crime, and economy.
“I was inspired by Governor Dunleavy’s vision and courage to move home and turn our state's crisis into a comeback — it's time for the last to be First. Alaskans need opportunities again.”
In announcing her candidacy for U.S. senator Monday, Tshibaka said in a prepared statement that “It is time we had a U.S. senator who represents Alaska to Washington, D.C., rather than one who represents D.C. insiders to Alaska.”
Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.