Senators won’t back defeated Murkowski in write-in campaign

If Alaska Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMoore digs in amid mounting GOP criticism Republicans float pushing back Alabama special election Moore defends himself as pressure mounts MORE attempts a write-in bid to keep her seat in the November election — and she will decide by Friday — her Senate GOP colleagues will not support it.

Several Republican senators told The Hill this week they are backing primary winner Joe Miller, an attorney who shocked the political establishment with his Aug. 24 victory over Murkowski, 51 percent to 49. 

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“I’m a big fan of Lisa’s, but I usually go with the primary winner,” said Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsCurtis wins Chaffetz's former Utah House seat Overnight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny FBI can’t unlock Texas shooter’s phone MORE of Alabama. 

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for her,” said Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeMcCain backs Pentagon nominee despite concerns over defense industry ties GOP senators ask Trump for meeting on biofuels mandate Trump feuds endangering tax reform MORE of Oklahoma.

“I’m very supportive of her — I think a lot of her, and I’m very sorry about what happened,” said Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchRead Senate GOP's tax bill Senate panel to start tax bill markup on Monday Senate set for clash with House on tax bill MORE of Utah. “On the other hand, the voters have spoken.”

A Murkowski spokesman has said the incumbent is “very much” considering a write-in bid, her only option for the general election. In a statement Tuesday night, the senator said she would "continue to seek advice from my fellow Alaskans about what is best for the state's future and announce a decision by Friday."

Some GOP senators said they doubted Murkowski would make the effort at all.

“I don’t think there’s any way for her to win,” said Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrJuan Williams: The shame of Trump's enablers Five takeaways from the social media hearings Overnight Tech: Senators demand tech firms do more on Russian meddling | House Intel releases Russian-promoted ads | Apple CEO says 'fake news' bigger threat than ads | Ex-Yahoo CEO, Equifax execs to testify on breaches MORE of North Carolina.

Murkowski was absent from the Senate for the second straight day on Tuesday; spokesman Michael Brumas said she would return on Wednesday. Brumas said Murkowski spent Monday on “personal business,” but declined to elaborate.

Appointed to the seat in 2002 by her father, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski, the incumbent senator won a full six-year term in 2004 and has risen to become ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee — a critical position, given the industry’s impact on Alaska.

Miller was backed in the primary by former Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who recently dubbed a Murkowski write-in campaign “futile.” Miller has said he doubts Murkowski will wage one, saying she previously committed not to.

A Libertarian candidate is already on the ballot, meaning that an Independent write-in effort would be Murkowski’s only way to win.

"Advisors and friends had urged me to find a way to get my name printed on the ballot at all costs," Murkowski said in her statement. "However, after meeting with the Libertarian candidate last week and considering that option, I cannot in good conscience seek the Libertarian nomination. As disappointed as I am in the outcome of the Primary and my belief that the Alaska Republican Party was hijacked by the Tea Party Express, an outside extremist group, I am not going to quit my party. I will not wrap myself in the flag of another political party for the sake of election at any cost."

But other Republicans also distanced themselves from a Murkowski write-in bid.

“I’ll support the nominee of the party,” said Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report MORE (Ariz.), the party’s 2008 presidential nominee. “I’ve already called Joe Miller and told him that I respect the party’s decision.”

“As tough as that is, that’s the reality,” added Sen. Mike JohannsMike JohannsFarmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington MORE (Neb.).

“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.”

Support from GOP centrists remains a possibility; the offices of Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program A bipartisan bridge opens between the House and Senate Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE and Olympia Snowe of Maine did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Murkowski’s Alaska colleague, Democratic Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE, put the chances of a write-in Murkowski campaign at “50-50.” 

This post was last updated at 7:59 p.m.