Murkowski, who has not officially announced her campaign, said she “would welcome his endorsement,” which reinforced the bipartisan image the three-term senator has cultivated for years.
The race is the first proxy fight between Trump, who has pledged to defeat Murkowski in 2022, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is backing the nearly 20-year incumbent, along with Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
“The D.C. Swamp protects its own and Joe Manchin knows that Lisa Murkowski is more like him than the Alaskans she’s forgotten about,” Tshibaka said.
Manchin’s endorsement is also in keeping with his record as one of the few moderate Democrats left in the Senate. The West Virginia senator has said that he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for senators to campaign against each other, and supported Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins in 2020.
If Murkowski does run, as expected, she could very well benefit from a new system where candidates run together in a nonpartisan primary, and the top four finishers advance to the general election, when voters rank their preferences.
This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.