Senator Lisa Murkowski may lose her position as top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee as a result of her decision to seek re-election as a write-in candidate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
The Senate Republican caucus will meet today to determine “whether or not it’s appropriate for her, under the circumstances, to continue as ranking member” on the committee, McConnell, of Kentucky, told reporters yesterday.
Murkowski, of Alaska, declared her write-in candidacy on Sept. 18 after she was defeated in her state’s Republican Senate primary last month. Murkowski, who was seeking nomination to a second full term, lost to Joe Miller, a lawyer from Fairbanks and a former U.S. magistrate judge.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said yesterday that stripping Murkowski of her ranking committee post is “the appropriate thing to do” because “when you choose not to accept the judgment of the primary voters and you run as a write-in and not be the nominee, then it has consequences.”
As the energy panel’s top Republican, Murkowski takes the lead for the party in trying to shape legislation by negotiating with the committee’s chairman, Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico.
Murkowski, at McConnell’s urging, resigned her leadership post as the vice chairwoman of Senate Republican Conference as she launched her write-in campaign.
“I informed her that by choosing to run a campaign against the Republican nominee, she no longer has my support for serving in any leadership roles,” McConnell said in a statement he issued immediately after Murkowski made her announcement in Alaska.
Murkowski, 53, said she was getting back into the race because “we cannot accept the extremist views of Joe Miller.”
Miller 43, was backed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Tea Party activists who promote limited government and lower taxes.
Murkowski replaced her father, Frank Murkowski, in the Senate seat after he was elected Alaska’s governor in 2002 and then named her as his successor. She won a full term in 2004, defeating Democrat Tony Knowles by three percentage points.