Former President Donald J. Trump endorsed Kelly Tshibaka on Friday in her race against Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, giving his support to an outsider candidate who promoted false claims of election fraud last year and has written articles in support of gay conversion therapy.
“Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska,” Mr. Trump said in a statement, criticizing her vote to confirm Deb Haaland as secretary of the Interior Department. “Murkowski has got to go!”
Ms. Murkowski was censured by the Alaska Republican Party in March for her vote to convict Mr. Trump during his second impeachment trial. The state party said it did not want her, a moderate Republican who has represented the state since 2002, to identify as a Republican in the 2022 election.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, however, has endorsed Ms. Murkowski, noting that its position is to defend Republican incumbents.
Despite her political vulnerabilities, Ms. Murkowski has overcome challenges from the right before. In 2010, she became the first sitting senator in half a century to win an election as a write-in candidate, defeating a popular Republican nominee aligned with the Tea Party.
Ms. Tshibaka, who is little known in the national political arena, served most recently as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration before resigning to run for Senate.
Hoping to seize on the popularity of Mr. Trump, who twice won Alaska by wide margins, Ms. Tshibaka has positioned herself as a “MAGA”-loving outsider, promoting false theories of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
As a student at Harvard Law School, she endorsed “coming out of homosexuality,” writing approvingly of a day “dedicated to helping homosexuals overcome their sexual tendencies and move towards a healthy lifestyle,” according to archives of her work unearthed by CNN’s KFile. She also urged gay people to participate in “pastoral counseling” and “accountability groups.”
More recently, she has hired Mr. Trump’s current advisers and former campaign managers, Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, as well as his former campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh, as advisers.
Mr. Trump has been following the race closely, his advisers said, hoping to unseat Ms. Murkowski. He met with Ms. Tshibaka two weeks ago at Trump Tower, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
The top four candidates from Alaska’s all-party primary will advance to a general election, which will be ranked choice.