Murkowski brushes off punishment by the Republican leadership

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Wednesday brushed off Republican plans to strip her of a top committee spot and her leadership post, saying she was focused on winning reelection.

Murkowski said she was “putting everything on the line” to win reelection as an Independent write-in candidate for Senate, and wasn’t focused on Senate Republicans’ decision to strip her of her position as ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as well as her job as vice chairwoman of the Senate GOP conference.

“What I’m doing is I am putting my state of Alaska before my party. In today’s political world, that’s practically unheard of,” she said on NBC’s “Today” show. “I’m putting everything on the line to do it.”

Murkowski had angered fellow Republicans by deciding to pursue an Independent bid after losing a Republican primary to Joe Miller, the conservative candidate backed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), a political nemesis of Murkowski’s.

Republicans fear that Murkowski’s participation in the general election could split the GOP vote in the race, and risk handing the Alaska Senate to Democrat Scott McAdams.

Murkowski said Wednesday that she still considers herself a Republican, however, and would look to rejoin the Senate Republican Conference if reelected.

“I am a Republican, have always been a Republican, have no plans of leaving the Republicans,” she said on MSNBC.

Murkowski sought to frame her decision to run as being responsive to Alaska voters who wanted to have an opportunity to support her in the general election. The senator argued most Alaskans did not vote in their state’s GOP primary.

“In fairness, 85 percent of the Alaskan electorate did not have an opportunity to participate in that,” she said. “So what I’m doing is responding to their request.”

Updated 9:29 a.m.

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