Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin is once again endorsing a Republican's reelection, saying he would back Sen. Lisa Murkowski's bid in 2022 "in a heartbeat."
His comments came during a rare joint interview for Politico's Deep Dive podcast with the Alaska Republican, and after former President Donald Trump has said he'll back her challenger, former Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka.
"I've met a lot of good people in Alaska, they know when they've got the real deal, and they see the person that basically is bringing both sides together, trying to look for the best interest," the West Virginia Democrat said of Murkowski.
"People understand that they have a person that understands Alaska and has Alaska in her blood and in every part of her veins and every morsel of her body," he added.
Murkowski has come under fire from Trump after voting to impeach him on charges of "incitement of insurrection" in connection with the violence at the nation's Capitol on Jan. 6.
She was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump, who ended up being acquitted in his impeachment trial. Alaska GOP leaders voted to censure her over the vote, like party leaders in other states did against Republicans who voted against Trump.
Records show Murkowski has filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission but hasn't officially launched her campaign at this point. However, she said she welcomes Manchin's backing.
The two senators have had a close relationship for years, dating back to when Manchin, a former West Virginia governor, entered the Senate in 2010. Murkowski, who was then the top Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, visited Manchin in West Virginia, and when she became chairperson, she hosted him in Alaska in 2019.
Manchin also endorsed Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, when she ran for reelection in 2020 and said that he doesn't think senators "should be campaigning against any colleagues, Democrat or Republican."
He further commented that most of his other colleagues wouldn't agree with him, but Murkowski said she hopes that their alliance, and the establishment of the 20-senator G20 bipartisan group, will be the start of something more.
"I would like to think that we’re the resurgence, that it's kind of lonely right now," she said. "But why wouldn't we want to encourage greater collaboration and cooperation among our colleagues. I get weary of that energy that is focused on the dirty, unproductive process."
Murkowski has been in office since 2002, when she was appointed by her father, Gov. Frank Murkowski, to fill the Senate seat that was made vacant when he resigned after being elected governor.
She has since won three full terms to the Senate but has never won a majority of the vote, taking 48.6% in 2004; 39.5% in 2010; and 44.4% in 2016. She won her 2010 reelection through a write-in campaign.
Trump, meanwhile, has backed Tshibaka, who resigned from her job leading the Alaska Department of Administration earlier this year while announcing her candidacy.
She said in a statement she is running against Murkowski "for the Alaskans who believe government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. The D.C. insiders need to be held accountable to us."
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