Non-action by GOP in repsonse to Murkowski write-in campaign reveals disconnect between leaders and electorate.

Posted on September 25, 2010


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After losing her primary campaign bid  to TEA party favorite Joe Miller, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has chosen to follow her own ideological path in the form of a write-in campaign in attempts to retain the Senate seat she currently holds. 

As disrespectful as it is to those in her own party who followed the primary system that subsequently rejected her, it’s not surprising that she seems to think she possesses some special right to hold the senate seat for as long as she continues to want it.  This is, in fact, an attitude we’ve seen displayed before by politicians when faced with defeat within their own party.  Both Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist have been in similar situations.  Their solution: reject the party and go elsewhere to try and get the win.

Unfortunately, in this instance we have GOP senators seeming to agree that Murkowski’s move is acceptable even when she will be running AGAINST their party’s own nominee.  The non-action of Republican senators to strip Murkowski of her top spot on the  Energy and Natural Resources Committee is an affirmation of her choice.  The decision to leave her in this position of power has given credibility to the notion that sitting politicians need not adhere to the primary rules and results that the rest of us are asked to follow. It shows that they will suffer no consequence for ignoring constituents’ decisions and even actively campaigning against them. 

Murkowski has taken this idea to heart and it has emboldened her to speak out.  From The Hill:

Republican senators opted not to oust Sen. Lisa Murkowski from a top committee post because they believe she has a shot at winning reelection, Murkowski said. (emphasis mine)

Murkowski, a GOP senator from Alaska who decided to pursue an independent write-in bid for reelection after losing her Republican Senate primary, said that her colleagues’ decision to allow her to keep her position as ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was an “affirmation.”
Murkowski said Republican senators “recognize, ‘You know what? Lisa might be a risk-taker, but she’s got a real shot at coming back here, and it only makes good sense that we would not want to be so punitive that she would be discouraged by the actions of her colleagues,’ ” she said in a Q-and-A with Time magazine published Friday.

Republicans’ decision to keep her in the ranking-member position, Murkowski said, was a recognition of her standing in the conference.

This was an affirmation of the relationship that I’ve built over the past eight years with the people that I work with,” she said. “As difficult as the politics are, as awkward as the situation is, I had really believed that my friends would recognize that what I’m doing is for my state.” (emphasis mine)

While a majority of her fellow GOP Republicans may think it’s best to let her retain her committee position because “she has a shot at winning re-election,” this attitude is basically an “in your face” rebuttal of the will of the Alaska Republicans who rejected her.  It is a statement that these GOP leaders don’t necessarily trust the people in their party to choose who will best represent them.  Allowing her to remain in this committee position while actively campaigning against the people’s choice is the type of thing that generates anger in the electorate.  This endorsement by GOP leaders may reaffirm Murkowski’s idea that it’s okay to ignore the will of her constituents, but it infuriates those same constituents who seemingly have had their voice ignored. 

The second highlighted portion above is more evidence of the priority of these Republican leaders. It is an admission that the relationship she has with the  “people she works with” holds precedence over the people she represents.  The “good ole boy” system is alive and well.  Her fellow Republicans have given her a pass partly because of her relationship with them.  Her rejecting of the constituents’ will is of secondary consequence.

It is this type of arrogance that has led to the TEA party movement.  The TEA party movement is grassroots group who want to have representatives that will listen to them instead of only looking out for themselves.

It will be a sweet victory when Joe Miller wins in November.

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