Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said that he would back the reelection campaign of GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is facing a challenge from a candidate supported by former President Trump. Manchin, the moderate Democrat from West Virginia, previously bucked his party by endorsing Republican Senator Susan Collins in 2020.
Manchin told Politico that he would back Murkowski’s reelection “in a heartbeat.” Murkowski has not yet officially announced that she is running for another term.
“People understand that they have a person that understands Alaska and has Alaska in her blood and in every part of her veins and every morsel of her body,” Manchin said of Murkowski in a joint interview with the two senators. Murkowski responded that she would “welcome his endorsement.”
Manchin is considered an iconoclast in his party, with strong ties to his Republican colleagues. Along with Murkowski, he is a member of a group of 20 moderate senators of both parties seeking to work on issues on a bipartisan basis. Manchin has been criticized by members of his own party for, which allows Republican senators to block Democratic priorities in the Senate.
Murkowski is facing a challenge from Kelly Tshibaka, who is supported by Mr. Trump. The former president holds a grudge against the Alaska senator for her frequent criticism of him, as well as her vote to convict him on the impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection on January 6.
But Murkowski may be hard to beat, and has experience with difficult elections. She won her election 2010 as a write-in candidate after losing the Republican primary. But in 2022, the primary is unlikely to pose a threat to Murkowski, since Alaska will be utilizing a new election system. A voter initiative in 2020 dropped party primaries in favor a a jungle primary system in which the top four vote-getters will move on to the general election. Alaska will also be using ranked choice in its general elections.