U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Opinion: It’s Murkowski vs. Trump in November

Alaskans must reward her defense of the truth…

  • By Rich Moniak
  • Friday, August 19, 2022 3:07pm
  • Opinion

Even with thousands of ballots yet to be counted, here’s one thing we learned from this week’s primary. Despite the new law that advances the top four vote-getters to the general election, there are only two competitive candidates for Alaska’s U.S. Senate seat.

Kelly Tshibaka was endorsed by former president Donald Trump. Or more precisely, she’s the pulse of his multiple grievances against Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

As of Thursday morning, Murkowski had a 4.4-point lead over Tshibaka. The two Republicans combined to earn 84% of the vote. In third place with an embarrassingly low 6.2 percent is Patricia Chesbro, one of the two Democrats in the race.

Obviously, the majority of registered Democrats pulled the lever for Murkowski. Trump, Tshibaka and the state party will probably claim that’s proof she’s a RINO—Republican in name only. But I’m sure it’s evidence Democrats are putting the survival of American democracy ahead of their party.

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney paid dearly for doing just that.

During Trump’s presidency, the rock-solid Wyoming conservative and third-ranking House Republican supported more than 90% of his policies. She voted for him in the 2020 election. But after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, she decided it’s imperative that those responsible for the attack be held accountable.

That’s why she and nine other House Republicans voted to impeach Trump. Why she and 34 House Republicans voted to establish an independent commission to investigate the events leading up to and including that day of infamy. After Senate Republicans blocked the bill, Cheney broke with her party’s leadership by joining a House select committee established to do the work instead.

No one would have challenged Cheney if she defended Trump or silently looked the other way, as so many in her party have done. But, she said, that “would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic.”

Instead, she put her oath to the Constitution first and lost her reelection bid by a whopping 66 points.

But Cheney’s mission hasn’t changed. She’ll continue to remind Americans of our “obligation to understand what actually happened” between the election and January 6th. “We cannot abandon the truth and remain a free nation.”

Murkowski understands those words better than most. “I allowed myself to refrain from speaking my truth,” she said after blaming Trump for insurrection.

Still, she was way ahead of Cheney in recognizing the threat Trump posed.

Eight months before she voted to convict him in the Senate impeachment trial, his former Secretary of Defense James Mattis wrote “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try.” He referred to resulting tribalism as “the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

Saying Mattis’s words were “necessary and overdue,” Murkowski encouraged her Republican colleagues to “be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up.”

That’s when Trump pledged to campaign against her. “Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don’t care, I’m endorsing. If you have a pulse, I’m with you!”

Of course, the price for his endorsement is absolute loyalty to him, not to the Constitution. Anyone seeking the truth about his unprecedented attempt to overturn a presidential election need not apply.

Enter Tshibaka. She’s refuses to acknowledge the election wasn’t stolen.

But as multiple members of his White House legal team testified, weeks before the insurrection they told him he lost a free and fair election. Even Brian Kilmeade gets it. The otherwise loyal Fox and Friends host recently angered Trump’s by telling him he’s never “been unable to prove” the election was stolen.

Tshibaka doesn’t care. Because her ambition to become a U.S. senator is tied to the knot of Trump’s fear that Republicans voters will turn on him if they learn truth.

Murkowski knew that if she stood up to him, he’d do everything in his power to see her defeated. She entered the race prepared to make that ultimate political sacrifice. Now Alaskans must reward her defense of the truth, the Constitution and American democracy with a resounding victory in November’s general election.

• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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