The Alaska Republican Party vows to “recruit” a challenger to Sen. Lisa Murkowski if she runs for reelection next year, but don’t expect the Republican National Committee (RNC) or the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to join the effort against the state’s senior senator.
National party chair Ronna McDaniel emphasized to Fox News in January that “the RNC stays neutral in primaries for a very good reason. Because somebody has to be there to pick up the pieces of difficult primaries and help bring the party back together.”
On Tuesday, in the wake of Saturday’s move by the Alaska GOP to censure Murkowski and recruit a primary challenger against the longtime senator, an RNC official reiterated that the party committee remains neutral in Republican primaries.
NRSC chair Sen. Rick Scott of Florida has repeatedly said the Senate Republican reelection committee will support incumbent senators running for reelection in next year’s midterms, when the GOP needs a net gain of just one seat to win back the majority in the chamber it lost in the 2020 election cycle.
“I’m clearly going to support our incumbents,” Scott told Fox News earlier this year.
December 14, 2020 – Washington, DC, United States: U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) speaking at a press conference to introduce a bipartisan and bicameral COVID relief bill. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)No Use UK. No Use Germany.
Murkowski, who hasn’t said yet if she’ll run next year for a fourth six-year term in the Senate, is the only one of the seven Republican senators who last month voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial who’s up for reelection in 2022.
The Alaska Republican Party on Saturday passed a resolution censuring Murkowski for her impeachment trial vote, and for several other votes she took that have angered Republicans in the state.
Among those votes, according to the resolution, are her opposition to repealing the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, voting “present” rather than in support of the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and her support this month for the confirmation of Rep. Deb Haaland as interior secretary. Murkowski and Alaska’s other senator – Dan Sullivan – were among four Senate Republicans who voted to confirm Haaland this week as the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary.
The resolution states that Murkowski’s “repeatedly spoken critically of President Trump throughout his term in office” and that “the Alaska Republican Party hereby separates itself from Sen. Murkowski’s conviction vote of President Trump.”
Besides censuring Murkowski – a move that other state Republican parties have taken against House and Senate lawmakers from their states who voted to impeach or convict Trump – the resolution also states that “the party hereby will recruit a Republican primary challenger to oppose and prohibit Sen. Murkowski from being a candidate in any Republican primary to the extent legally permissible.”
The move by the Alaska GOP came less than a week after Trump pledged to campaign against Murkowski next year.
“She represents her state badly and her country even worse. I do not know where other people will be next year, but I know where I will be – in Alaska campaigning against a disloyal and very bad senator,” the former president said in a statement.
Murkowski’s no stranger to fierce opposition from her own party. When she was running for reelection in 2010, the senator lost the GOP primary to Tea Pary challenger Joe Miller, who was backed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
But Murkowski, following her primary defeat, launched a write-in campaign and won the general election.