U.S. Sen. Murkowski of Alaska endorses Nikki Haley in presidential race

Mar. 2—U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has formally endorsed Nikki Haley as the Republican nominee for president ahead of the state GOP's presidential preference poll Tuesday.

Murkowski, who is a longtime critic of former president Donald Trump and is widely viewed as a moderate Republican, on Friday became the first U.S. senator to formally endorse Haley. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, followed close behind.

In a Haley campaign statement sent to multiple news outlets, Murkowski said that she was proud to endorse Haley, whom she described as a strong leader "with the right values, vigor and judgement to serve as our next president — and in this race, there is no one better than her."

Murkowski has for months expressed her support for Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina governor.

In Alaska, a presidential preference poll is held in place of a party primary to determine the distribution of the state's 29 delegates who will attend the Republican National Convention in July.

Alaska Republicans will vote Tuesday on whether to support Haley or Trump as the party's presidential nominee. Also qualifying for the Alaska GOP poll is entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who dropped out of the race in January and endorsed Trump.

[Alaska Republicans to choose between Trump and Haley on Tuesday]

Many of Alaska's other prominent Republicans, including Gov. Mike Dunleavy and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, have voiced their support for Trump, who won the state by 10 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election.

Trump on Saturday continued his march toward the Republican nomination, securing caucus wins in Idaho and Missouri and sweeping the delegate count at a GOP convention in Michigan. While Haley hasn't yet won a Republican primary in any state, she's vowed to stay in the race at least through Super Tuesday.

Murkowski won't be in Alaska during the state GOP poll, which allows only for in-person participation. Voting is open to registered Republicans from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at 18 polling locations around the state.