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Sen. Tim Scott on Thursday defended his support for Sen. Lisa Murkowski for re-election, amid backlash from some Republicans who support her opponent, Kelly Chibaka, who is endorsed by Trump.
“The road to socialism goes right through a divided Republican Party,” said Scott, RS.C.. “I like to win and frankly the best shot to keep that position is without a doubt Lisa Murkowski.”
Scott said that among the reasons he believes Murkowski, R-Alaska, gives Republicans the best chance to retain the seat in a key election year is that “the authority of the establishment is unquestioned.” He added that he “works very hard.”
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The senator’s endorsement pits him against former President Donald Trump in the primary Senate race — a move that angered some on the right.
But Scott is far from the only Republican on the opposite side of a Senate race from Trump this cycle. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; former Vice President Mike Pence; Rep. Elise Stefanik, RN.Y.; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; and others have endorsed 2022 GOP primary candidates in races where Trump has endorsed their competitor.
Scott on Thursday acknowledged Trump’s continued influence in the Democratic Party and said Trump’s endorsements overall this cycle have been effective for Republicans.
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“You can tell by the number of races he’s won. I mean, the bottom line is he’s still the most powerful force in Republican politics, and I think in all of politics,” Scott said.
“That’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed working with him on tax reform and HBCUs and opportunity zones and sickle cell disease and all the priorities that we’ve set, we’ve been able to see them come to fruition,” he added. “I think his support is strong.”
Alaska will hold a “ranked-choice” primary on August 16, in which the top four candidates, regardless of political affiliation, will advance to the general election. Murkowski and Tshibaka are both likely to advance to the November election.
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Last year, the Alaska Republican Party voted 53-17 to censure Murkowski and discouraged her from identifying as the Republican candidate in 2022 after she voted to impeach Trump.
Tshibaka entered the race last year as well, and quickly became the consensus candidate for pro-Trump Republicans upset with Murkowski. But Murkowski is used to challenges from the right, including in 2010 when she lost the GOP nomination to a Tea Party candidate and then mounted a successful write-in campaign to retain her Senate seat.