Lisa Murkowski has been a Republican senator from Alaska since 2002. She has accepted millions of dollars in assistance from the Republican National Committee, availed herself of the expertise of political professionals at the RNC, and gone to the voters of Alaska three times telling them she was a Republican.
But when the chips were down and the party that had nurtured and supported her throughout her political career needed her, she spit in their face.
Murkowski was the only Republican to vote “no” to bring the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the floor for a vote. Her explanation was long-winded and convoluted, but in the end, she said it was a vote of “conscience.”
Politicians vote their “conscience” when it is convenient to do so. In Murkowski’s case, her claim of conscience would be more believable if she didn’t already know that her colleague, Senator Susan Collins, was going to vote to confirm Kavanaugh. This meant that her vote was not needed for confirmation and she could safely indulge her pique against the president without recriminations from her colleagues.
Donald Trump hopes some of those recriminations come back to haunt her.
Trump spoke at length in the interview about Murkowski’s opposition to Kavanaugh and predicted dire political fallout for her in Alaska.
“She doesn’t run for four years,” he said. “She’s lucky.”
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin tweeted tauntingly at the senator on Friday: “Hey @LisaMurkowski — I can see 2022 from my house…”
Asked whether Palin might mount a credible GOP primary challenge, Trump said, “I don’t know anything about that. It’s four years. That’s a long time. But they will not forget. They will never forget. What she did was unacceptable. Really unacceptable.”
Palin is a forgotten joke of a politician, even in Alaska, so she doesn’t present much of a problem for Murkowski
But Trump is right. And you have to wonder what the state and local Alaskan GOP organizations think about their senator who betrayed the party that supported her for so many years.
There are certain times in the career of a politician when the party will crack the whip and demand obedience. This was one of those times. Much more than Murkowski’s “conscience” was at stake. The fate of the party in November and Trump’s presidency itself was on the line. That makes her vote incredibly selfish and self serving.
The Senate being a collegian body where “get along, go along” is the motto, it is not likely that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring down the wrath of God on Murkowski for her vote. He could remove her from her committees, ignore her seniority, even deny her prime office space in January. But he won’t.
Instead, after the midterms, Murkowski should think seriously about slinking across the aisle to sit with Democrats.