After graduating from high school, Ms. Tshibaka went to the University of Texas, then to Harvard Law, before spending 17 years in Washington. She wrote an article praising an organization that advocated gay conversion therapy (she later apologized to anyone she might have offended), described the ‘Twilight’ the books and movies as “evil” and have warned of the “addictive” qualities of witchcraft — positions that don’t exactly match Alaskan voters’ distaste for people who tell them how to live their lives.
Both she and Ms. Murkowski presented themselves as lifelong Alaskans who opposed the political “establishment” in the rest of the country. But it is Ms Tshibaka waving the flag at Mar-a-Lago, telling high school students in Nome that Mr Trump’s policies were “super great for our state”. In February, Mr Trump held a fundraiser for Ms Tshibaka at his Florida club, although he later turned around and charged her $14,477 for use of the facilities. She didn’t return to Alaska until 2019, when she was hired by the Republican governor, with the state paying $81,000 in moving costs to bring her and her family north.
Indulging herself for a national audience on CPAC and on conservative talk shows, as Ms. Tshibaka has done, could hurt her chances in the August primary. The Democrat who took on Republican incumbent Senator Dan Sullivan in 2020, Dr. Al Gross, found out much to his chagrin. Hosting Zoom calls from his Airstream, courting donors across the country, he raised $19 million, the highest take of any Alaskan Senate candidate. But at election time, the national exposure seemed to hinder more than help; Dr. Gross lost to Mr. Sullivan by 13 percentage points.
Ms. Murkowski is playing a different game.
If history is any guide, she’ll soon arrive at the little airport here in Sitka dressed in fleece and denim, ready to gobble up some wilted iceberg lettuce at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon, pumping her hands with the ‘cut, kill , dig, drill ‘good ol’ flannel boys at Orion Sporting Goods, dancing at Native celebrations.
While I don’t always agree with her, when I watch her work in a play, it’s hard to take seriously Mr. Trump’s prediction that voters in Alaska won’t forgive him. The more relevant question seems to be whether Ms Murkowski will forgive him. “I’ll tell you, if the Republican Party has become nothing more than Trump’s party, I sincerely wonder if this is the party for me,” she said shortly after the Capitol riot .
The idea that Mr. Trump could fly to Alaska and shoot it down, like he has so many others, might actually win votes for Ms. Murkowski. One thing he might find out in the attempt: He doesn’t have the first idea of the values of this state he’s only visited during refueling stops on Air Force One – proximity to land, blood , the noise made by shards of ice on a pane 40 below. All of this could play curiosity or nostalgia in the Lower 48. But it’s real here.
We don’t need more greatness in Alaska – just someone who understands what we already have and is brave enough to defend it against those who don’t.
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