Lisa Murkowski’s lonely Alaska fight against the tea party
Is Lisa Murkowski becoming her own kind of 'mama grizzly' in Alaska? Or is her decision to fight the tea party as a write-in US Senate candidate a lost cause?
Is Lisa Murkowski becoming her own kind of “mama grizzly” in Alaska? Or is the US senator’s decision to fight back against the tea party a lost cause at a time when most elected Republicans make at least a show of cozying up to the political insurgency?Skip to next paragraph
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Senator Murkowski has decided to run as a write-in candidate against Joe Miller, the tea party-backed candidate who thumped Murkowski in the GOP primary last month. Democrat Scott Adams is in the race too, but it’s really a grudge match against Miller, the tea party movement itself, and Sarah Palin (who backed Miller and with whom Murkowski has had run-ins before).
“The Alaska Republican Party was hijacked by the Tea Party Express, an outside extremist group,” Murkowski said a few days ago. (The California-based Tea Party Express spent nearly $600,000 on Miller’s primary campaign to oust Murkowski. It also helped finance Christine O’Donnell’s GOP primary win over Mike Castle in Delaware this week.)
Can Murkowski pull it off? The odds are against her. Most write-in efforts go nowhere. Some analysts suggest she could split the Republican vote, handing the Senate seat to Democrat Adams.
But Murkowski has several things going for her. For one, her’s is a very familiar name in Alaska politics. Her father Frank Murkowski held statewide office for 25 years – first as a US senator, then as the state’s governor.
Also, some pollsters give her a fighting chance, especially in a state with a small population and a small-town, very personal feel to its politics.
“Can Ms. Murkowski win? Sure she can,” Silver writes in his regular New York Times column. “There is plenty of precedent for write-ins being elected to the Congress, although fewer have done so successfully in recent years.”