Anchorage Democratic State Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson is weighing a run against incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska), who is up for reelection next year. Gray-Jackson confirmed this today during a phone call with the Landmine. She says that while she is focusing on her State Senate seat right now, she is seriously considering running for the U.S. Senate next year. Gray-Jackson is up for reelection next year, so she would need to decide to run for State Senate or U.S. Senate. She was first elected to the State Senate in 2018. Prior to that she served three terms on the Anchorage Assembly.
Gray-Jackson is known for her fundraising abilities, but Murkowski is already sitting on over $2 million in campaign cash, according to her latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) report. Murkowski has not officially announced her reelection campaign, though sources confirm that will happen soon.
Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who served as commissioner for the Department of Administration from 2019-2021, announced her U.S. Senate campaign in March. She has raised over $750,000, but only has $275,000 cash on hand, according to her latest FEC report. Tshibaka, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump and the Alaska Republican Party, has positioned herself as the conservative alternative to Murkowski.
So far, Republicans Murkowski and Tshibaka are the only serious candidates in the race. If Gray-Jackson gets in the race, she would be the first Democrat to file. Alaska voters passed a ballot initiative in 2020 that changed how elections are run. Instead of party primaries, all candidates run in a single primary, where the top-4 vote getters advance to the general election, which is conducted using ranked choice voting.
Since 1981, only one Democrat, former Senator Mark Begich, has served as one of Alaska’s U.S. senators. Begich served one term from 2009-2015. He was defeated by Senator Dan Sullivan (R – Alaska) in 2014. While it is not clear how ranked choice voting will impact next year’s election, some think it could improve the chances a Democrat could win statewide office in a Republican state.