Brennan: Murkowski votes her conscience

By Tom Brennan |

The notion that Sen. Lisa Murkowski may have doomed her re-election chances when she runs four years from now is downright silly.

Murkowski actually handled the Brett Kavanaugh issue pretty skillfully. She gave support to the Alaska Native community worried about his stands on Native American rights and women concerned about Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misadventures as a youth and his positions on abortion issues.

She also caught a break when Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, found he needed to skip the voting session to attend his daughter’s wedding. Daines would have voted in favor of Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and Murkowski wanted to vote against. Instead she simply voted “present” and the tradeoff kept the final vote 50 to 48 in favor of Kavanaugh. That softened the blow for the Alaskan. Voting “no” would have seemed harsher.

Brett Kavanaugh has had a very distinguished legal career and is highly respected by the leadership of the American Bar Association. His nomination to the Supreme Court was jeopardized when California professor Christine Blasey Ford accused him of a drunken sexual assault when they were both in high school.

Kavanaugh’s denial was certainly called for but the way he did it raised legitimate questions about his judicial temperament. He has never behaved that way in a courtroom, but his performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee made many people wonder whether that side of him might return again. Odds are it won’t, but still, people wonder.

Murkowski voted her conscience rather than follow party dictates. She has done that before so it was no surprise. It’s one of the traits that many Alaskans greatly admire. The conflict was unusual since there is usually little or no difference between Murkowski’s conscience and positions taken by Republican leadership. But this was an exception.

President Donald Trump said in a Washington Post interview that voters “will never forgive” her vote on Kavanaugh. Since Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins voted in favor of the nomination after seeming to waver interminably, Murkowski was the only Republican who didn’t support Kavanaugh.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell countered that Murkowski is “about as strong as you can possibly be in Alaska. Nobody’s going to beat her.” That may be a bit of overstatement, but if Lisa doesn’t make some unlikely mistake in the coming years she is highly likely to be re-elected in 2022.

Among the more laughable comments was former Gov. Sarah Palin’s jibe that she “can see 2022 from my house.” After her premature abandonment of the governorship in 2009, Palin’s political star in Alaska has waned to the point of invisibility. She seemed to quit the job because she was bored after losing the national limelight that enveloped her in the 2008 campaign for the vice presidency.

Palin is a very entertaining person and probably Alaska’s best known personality, but her current lack of political credibility in the 49th state seems to rule out being elected to a major office.

One thing worth noting in this year’s election is the bipartisan support Congressman Don Young is getting for his attempt to retain the congressional seat he has held since 1973. Alaska has only one seat in the House but Young has managed, through seniority and skill, to become one of the nation’s most powerful legislators. He has continually used that standing to advance issues important to Alaska and its people.

Young’s opponent, Independent Alyse Galvin, has relatively little political experience and wants to start at the top. She is only four points behind Young in the polls and could pull it off, but the odds look long. Don Young always seems to fight off his challengers — and they often do well in the polls, but somehow Young manages to hang on. He has done a good job for Alaska and deserves to be retained.

One of Don Young’s current television ads features endorsements by a number of prominent Democrats led by former Gov. Bill Sheffield. The ad very effectively makes the point that Young has bipartisan support, has done a good job for Alaska and deserves to be retained.


7 Responses to Brennan: Murkowski votes her conscience

  1. Rev Bill October 14, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Dodging making a tough choice by voting “present” is hardly an Alaskan value. Now it may be an Arizona value…..but when living in one place while representing another it generally is prudent to consider the values of the people you hope might vote for you. No matter who you are. Consider that, ladies. Note the plural.

  2. GEORGE COSTANZA October 14, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    The state Republican party needs to withdraw all support for Murkowski. I for one, will withdraw my support for the party if they don’t.

  3. Bill Hutchison October 14, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    Some folks are late recognizing the problems that come along with Murky and her conscience.

  4. Morrigan October 15, 2018 at 7:46 am

    Conscience seems to be a slippery commodity in politics.
    Of this we can be sure: if Senator Murkowski chooses not to represent or respond to productive Alaskans,
    if Senator Murkowski chooses to believe the “guilty until proven innocent” paradigm should be applied exclusively to Judge Kavanaugh,
    if Senator Murkowski believes a specific Supreme Court candidate should remain unruffled during the incessant vitriol and hate heaped upon him and his family,
    if Senator Murkowski responds only to the wants of Native corporations,
    then we need a new Senator, for whom “conscience” is not simply a convenience..

  5. Jim Schradle October 15, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Interesting to see people scrutinize the judicial temperament of a man and ignore the integrity of those scrutinizing him. He was looking at Sen. Blumenthal, of stolen valor fame. There was Sen Leaky Leahy who leaked classified information in pursuit of his political agenda and in so doing got an operative in the field killed. Then there’s Sen. DiFi who concealed critical information until it could be used as a weapon in the proceeding. Justice Kavanaugh gave them the dressing-down they had coming to them. Was good to see that Sen. Graham had his back.

  6. Will Gay October 15, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Brennan, the cannibus may be working for your arthritis but….

  7. Matt Johnson October 16, 2018 at 10:42 am

    You must’ve missed Murkowski’s statement. She didn’t say conscience. She said conscious. She’s always conscious of special interests and liberals. She owes them. She wouldn’t have won either of the last two elections without them.

    She’s a train wreck. It’s about time Alaskans sent her packing. She’s not only a menace to Alaska, but to the whole country.

    I wonder if it was her conscience that caused her to repeatedly lie about Joe Miller, even accusing him of felonies on the eve of the 2010 general elections. I wonder if it was her conscience that caused her to lie to Alaskans when she told them she supported full repeal of Obamacare, even going out of her way to accuse Joe Miller of lying about her when he said she wouldn’t do it. She then became the deciding vote to block repeal of Obamacare. Definitely a person of conscience, huh?

    I wonder if it was her conscience that caused her to tell Alaskans she was “personally pro-life,” yet she still votes for funnel hundreds of millions of her tax dollars (assuming she pays her taxes) to the nation’s largest abortion provider. Definitely a person of conscience, right?

    I could go on . . . but you get the point.


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