The prospect of an independent reelection bid by Sen. Lisa
Murkowski (R-Alaska) was met with uncertainty Monday by several Senate
Republicans, who said they were reluctant to back their longtime colleague.
Murkowski, who lost Alaska’s GOP primary contest to
challenger Joe Miller last month, is said to be considering a write-in
candidacy for the general election.
As they returned to the Senate on Monday,
unanimously expressed regret at Murkowski’s loss but refused to say
support her as an independent candidate. Several simply dodged the
question by saying they like Murkowski but that she herself hasn’t made
the decision yet.
“I’ll support the nominee of the party,” said Sen. John
McCain (Ariz.), the 2008 GOP presidential nominee. “I’ve already called Joe
Miller and told him that I respect the party’s decision.”
“I’m very supportive of her — I think a lot of her, and I’m
very sorry about what happened,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah). “On the other
hand, the voters have spoken.”
“As tough as that is, that’s the reality,” added Sen. Mike Johanns (Neb.).
“It’s important to elect Republicans, so it would be tough
to support a third-party candidate,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.).
“I like Lisa Murkowski, but I’m going to support the
ticket,” added Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.). “She ran in the primary, and she
didn’t win the primary. I would hope she would support the ticket.”
Murkowski lost her primary to Miller by a 51-49 percent on Aug. 24. Miller was backed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who said
recently that a write-in Murkowski candidacy would be “futile.” Miller has said
he doubts Murkowski will make the effort, saying that she has previously
committed not to do so.
A Murkowski spokesman last week said the senator was “very
much” considering the option.
Murkowski’s colleague, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, put the
chances of a write-in Murkowski campaign at “50-50.” Begich said he talked to
Murkowski after the primary a few weeks ago, but not since then.
“It’s tough in Alaska, because there’s no other choice but
to run as a write-in [candidate],” Begich said.