OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is wading into a GOP civil war of sorts and she’s choosing the same side as former President Donald Trump.
The popular Republican governor has come out in support of Kelly Tshibaka, the former state commissioner of administration, who is taking on incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, widely panned by conservatives for voting to convict former President Donald Trump during his second impeachment.
“Kelly Tshibaka will be an America First senator who knows that what’s good for Alaska is also good for America. She will fight for the constitutional rights of all citizens and work to revive the Alaskan economy, which has been devastated by the horrendous policies of the Biden administration,” Noem said in a statement exclusively obtained by Breitbart News.
“I am proud to endorse Kelly and look forward to working with her on issues we have in common for years to come,” Noem added.
Following the Capitol protest, Murkowski publicly blamed Trump and called on him to step down ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of Biden.
“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” she told the Anchorage Daily News at the time.
The former Alaska state administration thanked Noem for her support.
“It is a high honor, and I am grateful to have the support of Kristi Noem, one of the nation’s most successful governors. She understands what it’s like when the federal government seizes control of huge chunks of your state’s land and when it interferes with people’s livelihoods,” Tshibaka said. “When I’m Alaska’s next senator, I will always stand up for the rights of our people, and I will never forget who hired me to represent them.
Tshibaka also has another powerful backer: Trump.
“Murkowski has got to go!” he noted in a statement in June 2021.
“Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski — and she will. Kelly is a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America First,” he continued.
“She is MAGA all the way, pro-energy, strong on the Border, tough on Crime and totally supports our Military and our great Vets,” the former president added.
For her part, Murkowski has admitted recently that her reelection bid is facing some stiff headwinds, and in fact, she has stated she may very well lose.
“I may not be re-elected,” Murkowski told the New York Times about the possible end of her 20-year Senate career.
“It may be that Alaskans say, ‘Nope, we want to go with an absolute, down-the-line, always, always, 100-percent, never-question, rubber-stamp Republican,” she said about Tshibaka, who is leading in the polls.
“And if they say that that’s the way that Alaska has gone — kind of the same direction that so many other parts of the country have gone — I have to accept that,” Murkowski added. “But I’m going to give them the option… Maybe I am just completely politically naïve, and this ship has sailed. But I won’t know unless we — unless I — stay out there and give Alaskans the opportunity to weigh in.”
In December, Tshibaka unloaded on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and indicated she may not support him for the party’s leader should the GOP recapture the chamber’s majority in November.
“Mitch McConnell has repeatedly bailed out Joe Biden, giving him gifts of Senate votes, which are the only things keeping the Biden administration on life support,” she said.
As an example, after rescuing Biden with the last debt ceiling increase, McConnell said he would never do it again. But he just did, and he had Lisa Murkowski’s help in doing so.”
A year ago, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, Tshibaka said Murkowski needlessly picked a battle with Trump.
“She picked a needless fight with Donald Trump. His policies were really good for Alaska. He opened up oil and gas jobs for us,” she said.
“He reduced taxes for us. He supported our military. We have a strong military presence up here, and he rebuilt the military, and her impeachment vote made a lot of people angry in Alaska,” Tshibaka added.