Kelly Tshibaka addresses members of the community at Nikiski Hardware & Supply on Friday, April 9, 2021 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kelly Tshibaka addresses members of the community at Nikiski Hardware & Supply on Friday, April 9, 2021 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Area residents donate to Tshibaka

Peninsula residents are among those contributing financially to the campaign of Kelly Tshibaka, who is vying for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Lisa Murkowski.

Murkowski, who has held her current seat since 2003, has not yet announced her intention to run for reelection in 2022, but has raised about four and a half times as much money as Tshibaka this year.

Between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021, Murkowski received about $3.5 million, according to financial reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission. That’s compared to Tshibaka, who raised about $759,000 during the same time frame.

Tshibaka announced in March that she would be resigning from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration to launch her 2022 U.S. Senate campaign. Under Dunleavy, Tshibaka served as commissioner of the Department of Administration. She has also worked as the chief data officer for the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General and the acting inspector general of the Federal Trade Commission.

Tshibaka holds a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s from Texas A&M University. She served as legal counsel to the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and performed reviews at the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.

Since announcing her intent to run for the U.S. Senate, Tshibaka has campaigned in multiple cities on the Kenai Peninsula, including Soldotna, Nikiski, Ninilchick and Homer, among others. Her donors include the Republican Women of the Kenai, which donated $500, Pamela Gillham, who donated $300, and State Rep. Sarah Vance, who donated $500.

During a campaign stop in Nikiski in April, Tshibaka said she thought her campaign would need between $20 million and $30 million to be successful.

“We’re going to need as much money as it takes to get the name recognition out there,” Tshibaka said during that campaign stop. “We’ve got to beat 40 years of name recognition.”

Though Murkowski has not declared her intention to run for reelection in 2022 or campaigned locally, at least two peninsula residents have made recent donations totaling $350.

Murkowski received a B.A. in Economics from Georgetown University and Juris Doctor from Willamette College of Law. She served as an attorney with the Anchorage District Court from 1987 to 1989 and in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1999 to 2002. She was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2002 to a seat made vacant by the resignation of her dad, Frank H. Murkowski, and was successfully elected to the seat in 2004.

In the U.S. Senate, Murkowski serves on the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. She is also the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Murkowski touted legislation she’s been working on in Washington, D.C., that she said “kind of got forgotten” amid the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the Great American Outdoors Act and Energy Act of 2020, during a May presentation at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.

Murkowski had about $2.3 million available as of June 30, compared to Tshibaka who had about $275,600 available on June 30.

Full FEC finance reports can be found at fec.gov.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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