Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said yes to Donald Trump and his conditions. The former president had issued an endorsement of Dunleavy earlier this week, but it came with strings attached. Trump said that the incumbent governor would have his support only if he doesn’t back Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s bid for reelection. Dunleavy, who for now is facing five challengers, accepted that condition in a sign of how much Trump continues to hold power in Republican circles. Murkowski was one of seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump on an impeachment charge of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Of the seven, Murkowski was the only one who faces reelection in 2022.
Trump issued a statement Thursday evening saying Dunleavy had accepted his condition and endorsement. “Please tell the president thank you for the endorsement,” Dunleavy said in the statement. “With regard to the other issue, please tell the president he has nothing to worry about. I appreciate all 45 has done for Alaska and this country.” As some were quick to point out, it’s unclear whether the governor meant for that statement to become public. The version of the statement posted by Trump’s spokesperson Liz Harrington doesn’t include Dunleavy’s statement. Instead it just includes what Trump said: “This is why Mike Dunleavy of Alaska has been, and will be, a great Governor.” He also called Murkowski the “disaster from Alaska.”
Trump’s conditional endorsement sparked waves in Republican circles with former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman accusing Trump of “trying to be a dictator” and saying it was an example of why “it’s a scary time for our democracy.” The former governor also said Dunleavy should think twice before accepting the endorsement “because Alaskans are pretty independent” and “they don’t like being told what to do.” Republican leaders in Alaska cautioned that Trump’s conditional endorsement would cause unnecessary divisions within the party at a time when the GOP is trying to recapture control of the Senate. “The Alaska GOP is already fractured in a big way,” a Republican operative in the state told the Washington Examiner. “Trump’s conditional endorsement of Dunleavy was just another straw.”