Murkowski Hasn’t Given Up

By Libby Casey

Senator Lisa Murkowski says she’s weighing “Alaska” and its future as she considers whether or not to launch a write-in bid to keep her Senate seat.  She won’t say until tomorrow what she plans to do – and says in fact she’s still thinking about her options.  But the Senator does not sound like she’s given up yet.

Murkowski admits running a write-in campaign is a long shot.  And it would be an intense fight.

Think about the odds of taking on and being successful in a write-in campaign. They say the last senator that came to the senate was Strom Thurmond, that happened before I was born.  Now a lot has happened in that time, we have communications tolls that Strom Thurmond couldn’t even dream of.  You’ve got social networking, you have ability to communicate now that does make it feasible.  And I have suggested if there was anyplace in the country it might be possible, it is a state like Alaska.

But, the Senator says, it’s an extraordinarily high hurdle.

I’m not much of a poker player, but the analogy I’ve been using is, I’ve been dealt a 6 and an 8.  The guy across from me has two kings showing. And I’m hoping for the 5,7,and 9.  But it is possible.  And I think… this is the hope that Alaskans have been sharing with me.  That if it is possible, Lisa, will you give it a try, will you give us a choice.  And… extraordinarily difficult, but again I do feel a responsibility to my state.

Murkowski says that responsibility she feels is key right now.  She says she’s listening to the messages Alaskans are sending her.  One was delivered in the bruising loss of the primary.  But another is the outpouring of support she’s gotten from people asking her to get back in the race.  She says that’s kept her weighing her options.

Believe you me, the easier path would be to pack it all up and go do something different.  If I had not felt this, heard this call from Alaskans, I would not be deliberating as I am.

Murkowski says she agrees with many of the concerns of Tea Party groups like wanting fiscal discipline.  But she calls the Tea Party Express, the group that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in Alaska supporting Joe Miller, an “outside” group that’s one of the more “extreme arms” of the national movement.

The Tea Party Express has slammed the Senator in press releases this week, calling her a “sore loser” and saying it’s ready to take her on if she does launch a write-in bid.

Lisa Murkowski was back to work Thursday in the Senate.  In between votes on the floor, she was greeted by colleague after colleague, in private conversation.  When she left the chamber to cross the hall, reporters swarmed her, peppering her with questions about her future.

When asked what she was weighing, she simply said, “Alaska.”  A reporter asked if she’s done any recent polling to see if a write-in bid is doable, and she said, “nope.”

What was she hearing from her Senate colleagues?

Great support.

But Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, has thrown his support to Joe Miller.  When asked if Republicans were warmly welcoming Senator Murkowski back to Washington, he didn’t have much to say:

She’ll have to speak for herself, she’s got a decision to make.


But McConnell wouldn’t answer, and walked stone-faced down the hall.

One of Murkowski’s few fellow Republican women in the Senate, Olympia Snowe of Maine, was more forthcoming with praise.

She’s a great colleague and friend.  Obviously we feel very badly about it.  She’s served.. she’s been serving in the Senate with great and outstanding distinction.

Murkowski’s colleagues are trying to figure out what her absence would mean.  She’s the top Republican on the Energy Committee, and also sits on health and education, Senate Indian Affairs, and for the past year held a slot on the powerful Appropriations Committee.  One of her Democratic colleagues, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who leads Indian Affairs, called her defeat in the primary a loss to the United States Senate.

She’s been great to work with, she’s someone who is willing, when it’s necessary, to work across political aisles.  And apparently there’s… in the Republican primary these days there’s a huge penalty for people willing to do that.  The problem is, the way the Senate is set up, the only way things can get done is if we have people with competing ideas if they’re willing to sit down and say let’s resolve this and reach compromise.

Even though Senate Republicans are now supporting primary winner Joe Miller, Murkowski says she is hearing encouraging words from her colleagues.

The encouragement is ‘do what is right.’  And that’s ultimately what you look to do.  For the people you represent, your state, yourself and your family, and if you do what’s right, all is good.

Murkowski plans to announce her decision in Alaska on Friday.


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