WASHINGTON – Alaska and Wyoming will hold high-profile primary elections on Tuesday in contests where Republican grudges over the Jan. 6 insurrection and former President Donald Trump's desire to unseat his GOP critics loom over the races.
In Alaska, voters will select nominees in primaries for Senate, governor and the state's sole House seat. There will also be a special election to fill the remainder of the term of the late Rep. Don Young, who died in March.
In Wyoming, all eyes are on Rep. Liz Cheney, an outspoken critic of Trump who now faces a competitive primary challenge she is not expected to survive.
Alaska Senate primary
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski faces a Trump-backed primary challenger after voting to convict the former president during his second impeachment trial, which centered on his alleged incitement of the Jan. 6 assault by a pro-Trump mob on the Capitol.
"I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News shortly after the attack, making her the first Republican senator to call for his resignation.
"If the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me," she added at the time.
Murkowski was appointed to the seat in 2002 by her father, Frank Murkowski, who named her to fill his Senate seat when he was elected governor. She's no stranger to competitive primaries: In 2010, she lost the Republican nomination but still won the seat again in a famous write-in campaign.
This year, her top challenger is former State Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka, who has promoted false claims of election fraud. In addition to Trump's endorsement, Tshibaka has the backing of the state Republican Party, which censured Murkowski after her impeachment vote.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are backing Murkowski.
Alaska has a jungle primary system in which the top four candidates will advance to the general election, regardless of party. Murkowski and Tshibaka are expected to take up two of the slots.
Educator Pat Chesbro is the front-runner on the Democratic ticket, but the seat is considered solidly Republican.
Alaska House primary and special election
Young was first elected to Congress in 1973 and was the longest-serving Republican in the House. His death opened the seat for the first time in almost 50 years.
The top four vote-getters in the Tuesday primary will proceed to the general election in November, but voters also will decide who temporarily fills Young's seat until the new member is sworn in in January.
Businessman Nick Begich III, former Gov. Sarah Palin and tribal activist Mary Peltola are the three candidates in that special election, and are expected to prevail in the primary for the full term as well. Begich and Palin are Republicans; Peltola is a Democrat.
Palin, the former 2008 vice-presidential candidate, placed first among 28 candidates in the June primary to replace Young, with 27%, followed by Begich at 19%, 2020 Democratic Senate nominee Al Gross at 13%, and then Peltola at 10%. Gross has dropped out of the race.
Begich is the grandson of former Rep. Nick Begich, a Democrat, who ran for reelection against Young. The late Begich vanished in a plane crash in 1972 and was presumed dead, leading to a special election in which Young was first elected to the seat. The grandson – unlike his grandfather – is a Republican.
When will we get Alaska election results?
Because of Alaska's state laws, only voters' first-choice results will be reported for the first 15 days after the election. Preliminary ranked-choice voting results will be released no earlier than Aug. 31; official results will be certified Sept. 2, per FairVote.
Wyoming House primary
Cheney is one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, and one of the most outspoken Republicans against the former president. She co-leads the Jan. 6 committee and was ousted from the third-ranking spot in House GOP leadership over her persistent criticism of Trump.
How are they faring now?: Meet the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump.
Despite being the incumbent and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney is the underdog in the primary against Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman.
Cheney's case: Liz Cheney says Republicans must abandon Donald Trump
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is also backing Hageman in the race. Once a defender of Cheney, McCarthy's endorsement of Hageman is all the more remarkable because Cheney was a rising Republican star and GOP Conference chair – a leadership position she lost because of her anti-Trump stance.
Hageman is a former Cheney supporter who previously donated to Cheney's congressional campaign.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump antagonists Cheney, Murkowski face primaries Tuesday