Lisa Murkowski 'Can't Rule Out Leaving Republican Party' Because of Trump

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Lisa Murkowski, who was handed her Senate seat like a feudal title, now says she can’t rule out leaving the Republican Party. Her reason? The GOP’s shift towards Donald Trump. 

In an interview with CNN’s Manu Raju, which aired on “Inside Politics Sunday,” Senator Murkowski (R-AK) laid the cause of her potential defection at the feet of former President Trump and his supporters.

The veteran Alaska Republican, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial amid the aftermath of January 6, 2021, is done with the former president and said she “absolutely” would not vote for him.

“I wish that as Republicans, we had … a nominee that I could get behind,” Murkowski told CNN. “I certainly can’t get behind Donald Trump.”

The party’s shift toward Trump has caused Murkowski to consider her future within the GOP. In the interview, she would not say if she would remain a Republican.    

Asked if she would become an independent, Murkowski said: “Oh, I think I’m very independent minded.” And she added: “I just regret that our party is seemingly becoming a party of Donald Trump.”

 Pressed on if that meant she might become an independent, Murkowski said: “I am navigating my way through some very interesting political times. Let’s just leave it at that.” 

Those “interesting political times,” have a lot to do with the nature of the coalition Sen. Murkowski has managed to build in Alaska, from Anchorage and Juneau Democrats to the native communities in northern and western Alaska. 

As evidence of this, one need look no further than her 2022 campaign, which was the first Alaska election to be held under ranked-choice voting (RCV) which system arguably enabled her to hold off a challenge from the right in the form of Kelly Tshibaka, who was endorsed by former President Trump and who had the endorsement of the Alaska Republican Party. In that election, Senator Murkowski aligned herself with Democrat Mary Peltola, who currently holds Alaska’s sole at-large House seat. That didn’t help Murksowki’s status with Alaska Republicans.

See Related: Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski: ‘I Could Not Vote for Trump’ 

Alaskans for Honest Elections Turn in Petitions to Repeal Ranked-Choice Voting

This fall, RCV will be on the ballot again, this time for repeal. There are no good polling numbers that might enable us to hazard a guess as to how that will turn out, but we can be hopeful, and it’s unlikely that should Alaska return to the former partisan primary system, Lisa Murkowski would survive as an independent candidate.

Her statements on the January 6th, 2021 incident likely aren’t helping her with Republicans, either.

I don’t think that it can be defended. What happened on January 6 was … an effort by people who stormed the building in an effort to stop an election certification of an election. It can’t be defended.

It may well all come down to whether Alaskans choose to retain RCV this fall. If RCV falls, perhaps, finally, we can get back to the partisan primary system, and Alaska Republicans can bring forth a candidate that better represents the interests of Alaska Republicans, not Anchorage liberals. If RCV stands, unfortunately, we may be stuck with the likes of Lisa Murkowski for a while longer – which is precisely what RCV was designed to do.

You can watch the interview below:

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