The first post in a new TMS series.
Furious with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s opposition to Judge Brett Kavanaugh, over the weekend the Alaska Republican Party’s chair pledged “a very significant response” to Alaska’s senior senator.
“We are both shocked and disappointed by the decision of US Senator Lisa Murkowski to oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. The Alaska Republican Party supports his confirmation. We respect the process, but after the process ran its course, the time came for the Senate to do their duty and advise and consent, or not,” wrote GOP chair Tuckerman Babcock in a post to the party’s Facebook page. “We expected many Democrats to remain adamant in opposition to the nomination by President Trump. We did not expect Republicans to end in opposition. We repeat, we are both shocked and disappointed by the opposition to the confirmation from just one Republican, Senator Murkowski.”
The post made no mention of Murkowski’s reasoning for her vote, which placed much more focus on preserving the integrity of the court than the many sexual assault allegations that the party has dismissed.
“This is a very significant vote,” continued Babcock. “And the Alaska Republican Party will have a very significant response.”
Just what that “very significant response” will be is up to the state central committee, the party’s governing body, to decide at some later date. But whatever it may be, it hasn’t seemed to cause Murkowski—who won a historic write-in campaign in 2010 and her party’s nomination in 2016—to lose much sleep.
After she stood up on the Senate floor to explain her opposition to Kavanaugh last week, arguing that he wasn’t the right man to preserve the integrity and trustworthiness of the Supreme Court, she told reporters that fretting about political consequences gets in the way of doing her job.
“There are consequences,” Murkowski told reporters after the vote. “But if I were to worry every day about political repercussions, or somebody saying that they were going to run against me, or say something in a newspaper story, I wouldn’t be able to do the job that Alaskans expect me to be able to do.”
The problem with Murkowski—as it has always been—is that her politics have never been the party-over-everything calculation that the modern GOP holds as a core principle.
She’s neither the hardcore Republican that progressives fear nor the secret Democrat that the Republicans would claim, but a true moderate, and perhaps the only one left in the Senate Republican ranks. Her allegiances lie not with the single letter next to her name denoting her party affiliation, but the other six that spell “Alaska.”
Would Murkowski have liked to vote for a right-leaning judge that will help bring home big wins on everything from resource development to, well, resource development (as long as they pinky promise to not overturn Roe v. Wade)? Of course.
Kavanaugh offered that, and Murkowski’s comments in the wake of Kavanaugh’s confirmation sure make it sound like she was going to be a “Yes” vote before Kavanaugh decided to show his true partisan colors in his red-faced committee hearing.
For Murkowski, it wasn’t just the many sexual assault allegations that tinted her opinion of the judge, but it was his demeanor and response that stopped her from signing off on his lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I have been wrestling to really try to know what is fair and what is right and the truth is that none of this has been fair. It hasn’t been fair to the judge,” she said. “But I also recognize that we need to have institutions that are viewed as fair but if people who are victims, people who feel that there is no fairness in our system of government, particularly within our courts, we’ve gone down to a path that is not good and right for this country.”
Lest we forget, Murkowski also carried the opening of ANWR across the goal line for Alaska (or is it that she kicked it off–because we’ve yet to actually start drilling there?) Whatever tortured metaphor we’ll use, Murkowski will be able to carry the very significant victory on ANWR into whatever challenge the GOP brings. Perhaps another Joe Miller run or maybe another also-ran finish by Mead Treadwell?