JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has won the election, defeating Donald Trump-backed GOP challenger Kelly Chibaka.

Murkowski defeated Tsibak in the ranking election on November 8. The results were announced on Wednesday, when election officials tallied results after no candidate received more than 50% of the first-choice vote. Murkowski won 54% of the ranked-choice vote, winning the majority of votes cast over Democrat Pat Chesbrough after she was eliminated.

“I am honored that Alaskans — of all regions, backgrounds and party affiliations — have once again expressed their confidence in me to continue working with them and on their behalf in the U.S. Senate,” Murkowski said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing the important work that lies ahead.”

In a statement posted on her website, Cybaka congratulated Murkowski but criticized the ranked-choice vote.

“Many Alaskans were disappointed by the new election system because it was clearly designed to protect the incumbent, and it clearly worked as intended,” she said.

Also in the race was Republican Buzz Kelly, who suspended his campaign after the August primary and endorsed Tsybaka.

Murkowski was the only Senate Republican who voted to convict Trump in last year’s impeachment trial who participated in the vote this year. Trump has not been convicted. But her vote has been a sore point for the former president, who has vowed to campaign against her.

In 2020, before that year’s election and long before Tsybaka jumped into the Senate race, Trump announced plans to campaign against Murkowski after she criticized him: “Put up any candidate, good or bad, I don’t care anyway, I support. If you have a pulse, I’m with you!’

He appeared at a rally in Anchorage in July in support of Tshibaka and Sarah Palin, whose candidacy for the lone US House seat in Alaska he endorsed. Most recently, he participated in a televised rally for Tshibak at the end of October. Tsybaka, who worked in the federal inspector general’s office before leading the Alaska Department of Administration for two years, credited Trump with helping raise her name and boost her candidacy.

Murkowski, who was censured by state GOP leaders last year for misdeeds that included her impeachment vote, paid little attention to Trump during a campaign in which she emphasized a willingness to work across party lines and focused on her record and experience. Murkowski, a moderate who has served in the Senate since 2002, is the highest-ranking member of Alaska’s congressional delegation since the death in March of Republican Don Young, who held the Alaska House seat for 49 years.

Murkowski is no stranger to tough re-election battles. She won the 2010 general election after losing her party’s primary to Tea Party Republicans that year. Entering this race, she had never won a general election with more than 50% of the vote.

This year’s election was held under a new system approved by voters in 2020, which replaced party primaries with open primaries and introduced ranked-choice voting in the general election. Under an open primary system, the four people with the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election. “Our US Senate election in Alaska is yet another victory for insiders in Washington, DC, who rarely have our best interests at heart,” Tibaka said in a post-election statement.

Chibaka criticized a super PAC backed by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for running ads against her when she said those resources could have been used to help Republicans in other states.

She said she “marked the reds,” or Republican candidates, on her ballot, but not in the Senate race. She said that she does not consider Murkowski a “red” candidate.

“I didn’t vote for her either,” Murkowski said on election day.

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Associated Press writer Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska contributed to this report.

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