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

If Alaska Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiWarren: Entire country must speak up on GOP healthcare bill Senate rejects ObamaCare repeal, replacement amendment Kim Kardashian to followers: Tell your senators to vote against ObamaCare repeal 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 SessionsJeff SessionsSenate Dem: We’re trying to block a recess appointment to replace Sessions Sessions planning to announce leak investigations: report Trump turns up heat on AG Sessions over recusal MORE of Alabama. 

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for her,” said Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeMcCain absence adds to GOP agenda’s uncertainty GOP signals infrastructure bill must wait Lobbying World 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 Orrin HatchOrrin HatchThe one part of ObamaCare that must be repealed now GOP seeks to meet referee’s rules on healthcare repeal Hatch shares gif of dumpster fire: ‘Checking in on Dodd Frank’ MORE of Utah.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 BurrKushner says he did not collude with Russia, had no improper contacts Dems slam Trump for 'stonewalling' oversight efforts Burr: Nunes 'created' unmasking allegations against Rice 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 McCainMcCain votes to advance ObamaCare repeal, replace after vowing to oppose Overnight Defense: House passes Russia sanctions deal | McCain returns to Senate | Watchdog opens criminal probe into M camo mistake Tough road ahead for McConnell on ObamaCare 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 JohannsLobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops 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 CollinsWarren: Entire country must speak up on GOP healthcare bill Senate rejects ObamaCare repeal, replacement amendment Kim Kardashian to followers: Tell your senators to vote against ObamaCare repeal MORE and Olympia Snowe of Maine did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Murkowski’s Alaska colleague, Democratic Sen. Mark BegichMark 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.