Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski has long been a rogue Republican. On almost every controversial vote, Murkowski, along with Susan Collins of Maine, is considered one of the Republican senators that may not be reliable. Now, Murkowski’s “no” vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation may have been a bridge too far.
The Associated Press reports that the Alaska Republican Party is considering punitive measures in retribution for her vote. The punishments being considered range from a statement of reprimand to withdrawing support for Murkowski when she runs for reelection.
Sen. Murkowski has long been a thorn in the side of the party’s conservatives. She is pro-choice and was one of the first Republican senators to support same-sex marriage. In recent years, Murkowski voted with Democrats to return to the Obama-era net neutrality rules and was one of the holdouts who scuttled the Republican plan to reform Obamacare.
Murkowski has been in political trouble before due to her moderate leanings. In 2010, she lost the Republican primary to Tea Party favorite, Joe Miller. Murkowski mounted a write-in campaign that eked out a four-point victory over Miller in the general election.
Few conservatives would shed many tears if the Republicans abandoned Murkowski, but, since being elected to Congress in 2004, she has proven herself to be very resilient. In her last campaign, she finished 15 points of Joe Miller, who had by then become a Libertarian and was her nearest opponent in a crowded field.
For Murkowski, time is on her side. Her current term started in 2017 so she will not have to seek reelection until 2022. In the current political climate, many things can change in four years. It’s likely that tempers will have cooled and Murkowski will have cast votes since then that her constituents will celebrate. Republicans will probably decide that a rogue Republican who can win is better than a someone ideologically pure who cannot.