Hurrah for Lisa Murkowski. I guess we can write “Winner” after her name. We can also write "Finally Ended!” after the Alaska Senate race that started way back this summer when the Alaska Tea Party, under Sarah Palin’s watchful eye and enthusiastic support, selected Joe Miller as their choice to take Lisa Murkowski’s Senate seat. That support (and money) carried Miller into winning the Republican primary.
Then, as you know, the real race began. The Democrats had chosen Scott McAdams, the likable but rather inexperienced two-term mayor of Sitka, Alaska. Lisa Murkowski decided not to be defeated but to run a write-in campaign as an Independent, endorsed by no party. It was a brave long-shot and it now looks as if she has pulled it off, the first time it has been done in the U.S. Senate for over 50 years when Strom Thurmond did it in 1954.
Even though Murkowski will caucus with Republicans, who can not applaud her political courage?
The most intelligent analysis of the election that I’ve come across is a response from an Alaskan voter and reader of Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish. [Here]
I'm an Alaskan voter (who voted for Lisa Murkowski) and I am sick to death of columns... that made it sound like our choice was between (as you quoted it): "corrupt big spending Republicans" or the "shallow, hypocritical radicalism" of the Tea Party. Please. There were a lot of things in this campaign - a lot of them - that went far beyond... [money]
The local news revelations about Miller were huge, especially his conduct at the North Star Borough and the fact that his campaign called former Mayor Whittaker a liar, until it was proven that Miller was in fact lying. What also didn't endear him to half the state: his suited-up security guards at the Anchorage school and the bizarre arrest of a journalist, his comments about emulating East Germany when it came to immigration and frankly, having Sarah Palin's support (she is not popular up here.) He also picked some strange fights with the Alaska Native groups which mystified everyone.
Murkowski is basically a moderate. She is pro-choice. She believes global warming exists and acknowledges that Alaska is already dealing with it. (This was one of the areas where Miller's rhetoric really was alarming as there are coastal villages disappearing right now and dealing with them can not be ignored.) Miller didn't even go into the bush to campaign - he was especially destroyed by the rural vote (which went for Tony Knowles in the last senatorial election).
I don't always agree with Murkowski (I'm actually a registered Democrat), but prior to this year when she foolishly shifted hard right for a few months, she has always been fairly moderate. She is responsive to her constituents and in the past has been willing to work with both sides of the aisle. If she wins this election, we think she will acknowledge the Democratic and Independent support she has received and return to her bipartisan roots. She knows how she has gotten to the place she is now and she has acknowledged that support more than once. She has already said she will not attempt to regain her former position in the GOP leadership.
Joe Miller basically freaked us all out. He came across as silly as Christine O'Donnell or Sharron Angle. My husband is a Republican, I'm a Democrat. His mother is a Rep. His father is a Rep. His step-mother is a Dem. We all voted for Lisa because we thought Scott McAdams was just way too inexperienced (we all hope he gets into state politics). But as to Joe Miller, frankly, he comes across as batshit crazy and there was no way in hell we trusted him.
And yes, Alaska does get a lot of federal money. The state also has a lot of federal land and it is incredibly expensive to live there. (The Lower 48 enjoys gas prices markedly cheaper then in Fairbanks, that's for sure.) We all thought the Bridge To Nowhere was lame, but I'm sure there are similar (though less famous) idiotic earmarks in other states. Everyone agrees that the system needs to change and Alaska needs to start thinking about renewable energy and other ways to become more self-sustaining. We get that, I promise.
So it would be great if everyone would acknowledge that Alaskan voters have brains in their heads and actually choose candidates based on something more than cash.
I thank this anonymous writer for providing more insight into Alaskan politics than anything that I’ve read in the msm.
(I also hope that Murkowski’s two handsome children and husband are helping her to celebrate. They all deserve a big party.)
Now let’s see how she grows into her new role as Independent Alaskan. It should be interesting...