Mar 1, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Nikki Haley picks up a second backer in Congress

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, wearing a black dress, seen between two marble columns.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Friday endorsed former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's longshot GOP primary bid against former President Trump.

Why it matters: It's the second congressional endorsement for Haley as Trump, the GOP frontrunner, consolidates support among GOP lawmakers following consistent primary wins.

What she's saying: "I'm proud to endorse Gov. Nikki Haley," Murkowski said in a statement.

  • "America needs someone with the right values, vigor, and judgment to serve as our next President—and in this race, there is no one better than her."
  • Haley, in a statement, praised Murkowski as a "strong, independent voice who doesn't bow down to the powers that be in Washington."

Between the lines: Murkowski was one of eight Senate Republicans who voted to convict Trump in his 2021 impeachment trial for incitement of insurrection.

The backdrop: Murkowski, who isn't up for re-election until 2028, has positioned herself as one of the most centrist members of the Senate Republican Conference and an ardent Trump critic.

  • She is among just a handful of fellow Republican senators — including Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — who have ruled out endorsing Trump.
  • But Trump has continued to pick up support even from swing-district Republicans as he beats Haley in state primaries by wide margins.

Zoom out: Haley has just one other supporter on Capitol Hill – Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a close ally and a member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus.

After Haley lost her home state of South Carolina to Trump, Norman signaled to Axios that he would not withdraw his support.

  • "SC voters were given a choice and while they didn't choose my candidate, they had the freedom cast a ballot for who they truly wanted," he said.
  • "We will all get behind the ultimate winner as both Trump & Haley love America."
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