Who will pay?
While shocked Alaska Republicans mull their response to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s break with her party in opposing Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, other Alaskans may start wondering what it may mean for the state.
Alaska GOP chief Tuckerman Babcock says he intends to convene the party’s entire state central committee to decide what to do about her voting “present” during the confirmation. The party can huff and puff, but its options are limited. Reprimand. Pull party support. Write a report or letter. None of that is likely to ruffle her skirt. The reality is that she is not up for re-election for four more years – an eternity in politics.
While a steaming GOP sorts out what it wants to do, the rest of us – including Republicans – should be very concerned about her decision. The federal government, after all, spends billions in Alaska and controls almost 62 percent – 224 million acres – of Alaska’s 375 million acres.
It also has its fingers in almost every aspect of Alaska life: Crucial land management and resource extraction decisions that will affect the state for decades to come; access issues; military bases and regulatory controls. Then, there areas such as fish and wildlife management and trust relationships with Alaska Natives. The list seems endless.
Will President Donald Trump – who fumed Murkowski would never recover after her vote – choose to spend some of the federal government’s money elsewhere? It is anybody’s guess. He may just go after her politically if she decides to run again in 2022, or he may opt to reduce spending in Alaska to get her attention, or he may choose to do nothing, an option we see as unlikely.
We suspect the senator largely voted to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation to stand with Alaska’s Native community, which adamantly objected to Kavanaugh’s confirmation and largely re-elected her in an historic write-in vote after she lost the GOP primary to Joe Miller in 2010. Then, there is her support of pro-abortion rights advocates, who feared he would overturn Roe v. Wade.
We are absolutely sure she had her reasons, but the question that remains? Who will get to pay for her decision.