Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski endorse Nikki Haley over Donald Trump

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) both announced on Friday that they were endorsing former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

Murkowski, a centrist who handily defeated a primary challenger backed by former President Donald Trump in her last reelection race, became the first Senate Republican to endorse someone other than Trump in the 2024 primary.

Hours later, Collins announced a similar endorsement via the Bangor Daily News, calling her “extremely well qualified.”

They join Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) as the second and third members of Congress to endorse Haley.

“I’m proud to endorse Gov. Nikki Haley,” Murkowski said just days before Alaska residents vote in Tuesday’s GOP presidential contest. “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. Nikki will be a strong leader and uphold the ideals of the Republican Party while serving as a president for all Americans.”

Haley, meanwhile, thanked Murkowski “for her support and leadership” and praised her as a “trailblazer and a strong, independent voice who doesn’t bow down to the powers that be in Washington. 

“As president, I will fight to make Alaskans, and all Americans, proud by restoring fiscal sanity, energy dominance, and limited government,” she added. 

Collins for her part said, “[Haley] has the energy, intellect, and temperament that we need to lead our country in these very tumultuous times.”

Murkowski, a lifelong Republican, never had a particularly strong relationship with Trump to begin with. While she voted to acquit him during his first impeachment trial, she was vocal throughout Trump’s presidency when she took issue with his behavior.

She broke more formally with Trump after he refused to concede his 2020 election loss, eventually voting to convict him at his second Senate impeachment trial after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. She also admitted shortly after he left office that she didn’t vote for the former president’s 2020 reelection bid.

The Alaska senator was first elected in 2002, but she made history when she was reelected in 2010 through a write-in campaign. The achievement made her the first senator in over 50 years to win her race in such a way.

Her criticism, along with her decision to confirm several of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees, drew Trump’s ire, leading him to back a primary challenger in her most recent Senate race last year. Murkowski, a political force in Alaska, won that race by over 7 points.

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As for the 2024 cycle, Murkowski has remained adamant that she will not support Trump’s return to the Oval Office. 

Collins has had a complicated relationship with Trump. In 2016, she said she would not back him but remained neutral in 2020. She was one of seven Republicans who voted to convict him of inciting an insurrection after his supporters breached the Capitol, although Trump was ultimately acquitted. The Maine GOP ultimately decided not to censure Collins in a subsequent vote.

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