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The remaking of Murkowski?

For the first time in more than 50 years, a senator has won a campaign without the help of her party's national establishment. Lisa Murkowski, who was defeated in the Republican primary by Tea Party favorite Joe Miller, has now won the general election. By Wednesday afternoon--despite calls for a recount from Miller's camp--Murkowski had a clear enough lead that Miller would not be able to catch up.

All of which leaves the Alaskan senator in an interesting leadership position as she transitions from campaigning back to governing. While she has said she will caucus with the Republicans, she is not indebted to the national establishment, either, after their post-primary backing of Miller. And she certainly owes little to the Tea Party and its chief cheerleader, Sarah Palin, who supported Miller and campaigned on his behalf.

What kind of leader will that make Murkowski? It's too early to tell, of course. But there are signs she may be less beholden to the current waves running through her party. For one, she's already said she's against the earmark ban that Republican senators are suddenly so enthusiastic to push. While that may fight the tide of those against business-as-usual in Washington, earmarks have long been sacred cows in Alaska, which receives among the highest number of federal dollars of any state. Even Sarah Palin, according to this 2008 report, secured more than $27 million in earmarks for Wasilla while she was mayor or governor of the state.

Speaking of Palin, Murkowski was only too happy to break ranks with those in her party who are the Mama Grizzly's biggest fans and tell Katie Couric, of all people, that she doesn't think Palin is fit to be president. "I just do not think that she has those leadership qualities, that intellectual curiosity that allows for building good and great policies," Murkowski told Couric.

Of course, the Palin-Murkowski feud runs deep, and earmarks are so sacrosanct in Alaska that she is risking little by opposing the Republican party's ban. And Murkowski, like any politician, is clearly not truly independent. The top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, she has received some $480,000 from the oil and gas industry over the course of her career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Still, Murkowski will be a leader to watch, keeping the possibility alive that she could decide to vote her own way, "pulling a Joe Lieberman" on occasion. She may not owe much to her party. But she may feel she owes at least something to the independents and even Democrats who swung her way.

By Jena McGregor

 |  November 18, 2010; 12:44 PM ET |  Category:  Change management , Government leadership , Leadership development , Personal Leadership Journey , Public leadership , Women in leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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If Sarah Palin got $27 million in earmarks for a town of 7,000 it has to be a per capita record in earmarks.

The incoming Republican congress that promises more congressional hearings should begin by investigating how the 27 mil. was spent.

Posted by: WESHS49 | November 30, 2010 11:18 AM

I think this would make a good TV drama - lots of good characters involved!

Murkowski will probably be the winner - and that's because, after her defeat in the primary election and then her rejection by the AK Libertarian Party (and her decision to NOT run in the General Election as an Independent), she got together with all her Dad's old supporters (Republicans) and also LOTS of Democrats (who knew that their affable Mayor of Sitka would probably NOT survive the General Election) - and that's how she won - probably more with Dem votes than any others!

As for Miller, he did a major misstep by hesitating on his response to the question of a possible Palin bid for the Presidency - and that did NOT endear him to the GOP Tea Partiers!!

All in all, the Senate still has a GOP seat with Murkowski - as much as it has with her sister RINOs, the Maine Sisters. Well, that's what makes it interesting! However, ALL so-called RINOs will continue to be challenged in 2012, 2014 and 2016! In other words, the Tea Party is here to stay; and, like the Progressive Socialists that have dominated the Democrat Party in recent years, the TP Movement is focused on doing the same thing with/to the GOP in the near and foreseeable future - they are NOT going away!!

Posted by: joydbrower | November 24, 2010 2:03 AM

Murkowski is right. Just because $arah is a political gadfly running around making speeches that are mostly snarky comments and nothing more, it doesn't translate to her getting any kind of "experience". I would love to see her in a debate with Obama (or Hillary in 2016?). They would wipe up the floor with $arah.

Posted by: lddoyle2002 | November 23, 2010 5:58 PM

I think it is pretty obvious why Murkowski won. During the primary, only Republicans voted and they preferred Miller to her.

But in the general election, all three groups, Republicans, Democrats and independents voted and in that combined group Murkoswki did better.

There is no contradiction here at all.

There is an additional fact that some negative facts about Miller came out only after he had won the primary. This too may have affected the outcome as well as the fact that Miller refused to endorse Palin's possible candidacy in 2012.

In other words, it was in the cards.

If people want to use what happened in order to vent their hatred for Palin, well, people will do anything, we cannot stop them.

Posted by: rjpal | November 21, 2010 5:56 PM

Notice the TOTAL silence at FOX news over this TOTAL repudiation of Palin. A write-in
candidate totally snubbed and kicked to the curb by the Repub Party beats a Repub backed Tea Party candidate in Palin's home state.
Now this is real news that Fox should be reporting on. But this news is negative publicity for FOX so they will just push the ignore button.
Posted by: mikald
I assume you did not actually bother to LOOK at Fox news, did you? Here is what Kirsten Powers says IN Fox News:

What sweet revenge it must be for Senator Lisa Murkowski to have thwarted Sarah Palin’s plans to install Tea Partier Joe Miller in the U.S. Senate. As has been well chronicled, the Murkowski and Palin clans have little love for each other; it goes back to Palin beating father Frank Murkowski in the Alaskan Governor’s GOP primary many years ago. Of course, Frank was a bit of a sitting duck with his 20 percent approval rating, but Palin is the one who booted him from office nonetheless.

And, Powers said it three days ago!

It is simply amazing how Democrats seem to "know" so much about Fox news without ever looking at its web page.

I have news for you. Almost everything you find in the WaPo or the NY Times, you will also find in Fox news. (I tend to look at all three).

Posted by: rjpal | November 21, 2010 5:49 PM

The fantasy (someone writing in the NY Times about Sarah Palin):

She may very well get the nomination. But win the White House? Last time I checked we still had the Electoral College. California, Texas, Florida and New York ... she would have to win at least two. And with her jumping on the anti-immigrant (read anti-Latino) bandwagon, that ain't gonna happen. If her spinmeisters convince her of this fact she may start "massaging" her image to remedy this problem. When I see her swatting at a pinata at a Hispanic-American child's birthday party I'll know that process has begun.

The reality:

Tuesday's midterm elections were historic for Hispanics. For the first time ever, three Latino candidates -- all of them Republicans -- won top statewide offices. In New Mexico, voters elected the nation's first Latina governor, Republican Susana Martinez. In Nevada, Republican Brian Sandoval won the governor's race and became Nevada's first Hispanic governor. And in Florida, Republican Marco Rubio won the U.S. Senate race.


Personally I agree with Murkowski that as of now, Palin is not qualified to be president. But she may acquire experience. And what is more likely, she may retain her political influence without running for president.

If Palin had run herself instead of endorsing Miller, she might now be senator. And that is a far better jumping board to the presidency (as Obama could tell her) than a governorship.

Posted by: rjpal | November 21, 2010 5:41 PM

Notice the TOTAL silence at FOX news over this TOTAL repudiation of Palin. A write-in
candidate totally snubbed and kicked to the curb by the Repub Party beats a Repub backed Tea Party candidate in Palin's home state.
Now this is real news that Fox should be reporting on. But this news is negative publicity for FOX so they will just push the ignore button.

Posted by: mikald | November 21, 2010 4:20 PM

Murkowski is the first pol in Rep party to state the obvious that Palin does not have the intellectual curiosity and leadership qualities to be president. Plus Alaska needs roads which US Government does not allow so earmarks are needed to insert road projects for Alaska. Joe Miller was against earmarks and spending on Alaska so glad he got overthrown.

Posted by: mascmen7 | November 20, 2010 1:19 PM

I'm sorry that Murkowski is in favor of earmarks, otherwise known as pork. Earmarks are "reverse bribes." Bribes are when money is given to a politician to influence his vote on pending legislation. A "reverse bribe" is when a politician brings home the pork to influence voters to vote for him. In fact, politicians unashamedly campaign for re-election by reminding voters of all the pork he's brought home for them. It's still a bribe.

Posted by: Paaa | November 20, 2010 12:19 PM

It remains to be seen what will happen in the new Congress. Politicians were blowing a lot of smoke making promises that they knew up front they could not keep. They, of course will blame other people for the fact that they can not deliver. We had a local politician who based his campaign on a hot button issue. He accomplished nothing and was kicked back out the next election. Alaskans were smart enough not to elect someone like that.

Posted by: FredinVicksburg | November 20, 2010 2:22 AM

Miller is a complete idiot, Palin is a complete idiot,tea party types will continue to use words like floozies to describe people, and you all will go away.

Posted by: Annandale | November 19, 2010 10:08 PM

Murkowsky's write-in victory over Palins' hand picked candidate in Palins' home State is proof that Palin is not the formidable candidate that the media and the extreme right claim she is.

If any other person considered to be a potential candidate for the Presidency had promoted a candidate for Senator from his or her State and lost to a write-in candidate, the media would be proclaiming that the "potential candidate" had met his or her Waterloo.

For some inexplicable reason Palin gets treated as a "potential candidate" regardless of what she does. I guess she just makes "good ink".

Posted by: WESHS49 | November 19, 2010 3:14 PM

"She just won, you idiot -- she knows what Alaskans want ...".

Absolutely! Alaskans are the Cadillac-driving Welfare Queens of the entire Federal transfer-payment system. Candidate Miller (who benefited from it personally) promised to end it. Write-in candidate Murkowski (who benefited from it personally) promised to keep it (the gravy) flowing Alaska's way.

Alaskans seem to want it both ways. They already enjoy the lowest overall individual tax burden in the United States. The election results simply prove what's already obvious: it's a scam. Most Alaskan voters will send to Washington the candidate who promises to fight like a wildcat to preserve the subsidies that makes low in-state taxation possible. Yet, in almost the same breath, those same Alaskans (Republicans especially) thump their chests proclaiming the virtues of their independent way-of-life while denouncing the very "Big Government / Liberal Agenda" that sends all that money their way.

They want to have their cake and eat it, too; why Murkowski won.

Posted by: hogsmile | November 19, 2010 1:02 PM

The sensible "Middle" in Alaska, both Republican and Democrat, got Murkowski elected. That is "who" she is and that is who she will fiercely represent. Since the Republican establishment abandoned her during her re-election, she does not owe them anything. In her tenacity and will to "right" a "false positive" she did herself, Alaskans, and the Nation a great favor.

Posted by: dozas | November 19, 2010 12:07 PM

I want to see Hogzilla retain her popularity once the porkulus quits flowing. Those greedy voters voted in Murkowski for their pork addiction. Oink oink!

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | November 19, 2010 12:06 PM

Nope. Same ugly face. Same Murkowski.

Posted by: cbtole2 | November 19, 2010 12:02 PM

I think Republicans in DC are secretly cheering and sighing relief that Murkowski won and is coming back. Can you imagine having to work with Joe Miller? The Republicans dodged the bullet on that one.

Posted by: forgetthis | November 19, 2010 11:43 AM

Lisa needs to be called Senator RINOwski. She and the two Maine floozies should be kicked out of the Republican party and if they are not, we need to kick the Republican party into oblivion. If you walk like a duck and quack like a duck, you ain't a swan!!!! These three embarrassments need to stop calling themselves Republicans.

Posted by: gttaluvme | November 19, 2010 11:38 AM

I don't think this election was a referendum on smaller government. But I think it was people upset that nothing was happening in government and they punished the people in charge. Most people with half a brain want their food regulated and inspected, the want regulation on industry to insure we don't have another financial breakdown. Big business wants deregulation, not the regular guy! Well, not the regular guy that has a functional brain. I guess that excludes the teabaggers:)

Posted by: noneckmd | November 19, 2010 11:26 AM

Murkowski likes earmarks.

Palin likes earmarks but lies and says she doesn't.

Posted by: Dadrick | November 19, 2010 11:01 AM

"Tuesday's primaries were more proof of the anti-incumbency mood felt in many parts of the nation, and a new Rasmussen Reports poll finds that many voters continue to feel a randomly selected sample of people from the phone book could do a better job than their elected representatives in Congress."

So these "many voters" are saying that random selection is better than their choices. And has been better for over 200 years?

Posted by: George-W | November 18, 2010 11:51 PM

Steveinva: You said: She just won! She Knows what Alaskans want! On that basis the Republicans have won big all over the U.S. including in state houses! They must know what Americans want! Henceforth Alaskans will just have to do with fewer "gifts" from various appropriated bills and Congressional give-aways unless she will tow the Party line like she did before. She even swings left at all and she is toast in the power grab game called Washington.

Posted by: myonecent | November 18, 2010 11:18 PM

Senator Murkowski has learned nothing from the results of the recent election...
She just won you idiot--she knows what Alaskans want.

Posted by: steveinva | November 18, 2010 9:12 PM

Senator Murkowski has learned nothing from the results of the recent election. She ignores the concerns of millions of people who voted for smaller government and a fiscally responsible congress. She has never voiced any concerns for deficit spending, and the fact that the federal government is borrowing forty cents of every dollar that it spends.

Earmarks enable the backroom deals and corrupt politics that this congress has taken to new levels with the Obama Care Bill. The ban on earmarks would encourage congress to vote on the merits of a bill, and possibly even read it.

Senator Murkowski's grew up on earmarks and of course, she will oppose a ban on them. Her write-in candidacy was funded by $100,000 in contributions from a handful of Alaska corporations that have been handsomely subsidized by the federal government. These six-figure donors have pulled in billions of taxpayer dollars thanks to special legislative favors from Murkowski and her mentors.

"Alaskans Standing Together," a special campaign committee, was formed to attack Republican nominee Joe Miller and support Murkowski through ads. In late September, AST took in $800,000 from nine Alaska Native Corporations -- unique, privileged, and politically connected for-profit entities created in the 1970s by legislation written by the late Senator Ted Stevens.

Unfortunately, for our country there are many of her supporters that voted for her because of her past record of bringing home the bacon which has nothing to do with her having any leadership qualities or intellectual abilities.

Murkowski could easily lead a group of the ‘Sacred Pigs in Congress’ and oink all the way home with her unpaid for earmarks.

Posted by: takebackamerica1 | November 18, 2010 7:01 PM

The headline reads "The remaking of Murkowsi?"

Posted by: AnotherHagman | November 18, 2010 2:19 PM

I can always hope that President Obama will invite the three Republican women (no known men by me, but perhaps there's @ least one who might fit this bill), who, as Lisa Murkowski made clear, IS interested in compromise as a way to move legislation forward for the country's sake.
Murkowski obviously will take any gifts she can get from the budgetary process. She will obviously seek to get some "pay back" from the Obama Administration for simply winning her write in candidacy, &, speaking about compromise so positively.
On the other hand, a sit down between Obama & the three women, & perhaps a man like Dick Lugar, R-IN, might pay off if the Tea Party faction of the GOP, led by that dimwit, DeMint, gets thirsty for blood. The TPers could begin to drive hard against whatever moderates are left in the GOP. These three women, & perhaps Lugar, could be susceptible for attack by right wing idealogues.
I hope Obama stays connected with any movement to abolish ear marks during the upcoming budget cycle. I hope he refuses to cave on the tax break for the richest of the rich. If anything, be only willing to give tax breaks to the richest of the rich if they buy consumer goods. But, how to establish a threshhold of goods they have to buy to get the tax break.
Is that even possible?
What about those folks getting a tax break if they purchase an American fuel efficient auto, or hybrid, up to and including a very high % of the cost of such vehicles. Such autos would have to be either built by Americans, or assembled by American workers in the country. An sideways "cash for clunkers," it's assumed that many such individuals already HAVE a fairly decent fuel efficient auto. As such, their "hand me downs" could offer or open windows for others to pick up used fuel efficient vehicles.
But if the GOP insists on going right down to the wire, and demanding those richest keep their tax breaks, I hope Obama says "no."
Let the Republicans explain why they held out for 2% of the tax paying population v. 98% of the rest of us.

Posted by: zennheadd | November 18, 2010 2:00 PM

Still no phone call from her barely bearded adversary. But she certainly seems exaltant here.
Murkowski Becomes First Write-In Senator Since '54
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has become the first US Senate candidate in decades to win a write-in campaign after a count of hand-written votes in Alaska. The state Republican Party has asked her opponent, Joe Miller, to withdraw. http://www.newslook.com/videos/267204-murkowski-becomes-first-write-in-senator-since-54?autoplay=true

It's not over till it's over, but as Yogi Berra might say, "it's over."

Posted by: dbmetzger | November 18, 2010 1:59 PM

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