Party Discipline

Lisa Murkowski’s decision to run as a write-in candidate in Alaska didn’t cost her much in the Republican caucus. She kept her committee assignments, including being the ranking member on the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee:

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters that it was “a matter of good taste.”

As annoying as the whole Lieberman debacle was (and is), this is another reminder that it’s the Senate, not the party.






30 replies
  1. 1
    Roger the Cabin Boy says:

    I think the republican senate leadership is hedging here, after all she could beat Miller and they’d still want her to caucus with them if she does (she probably would anyway, but why not play it safe?). And if Miller wins, it’s no skin off their noses.

  2. 2
    Nick says:

    @Roger the Cabin Boy:

    I think the republican senate leadership is hedging here, after all she could beat Miller and they’d still want her to caucus with them if she does (she probably would anyway, but why not play it safe?). And if Miller wins, it’s no skin off their noses.

    well…duh lol.

    No seriously though, neither party is going to alienate an important vote. They won’t alienate her, the Dems wouldn’t alienate Lieberman. Especially concerning Lieberman since it was pretty clear he’d win as an indy.

  3. 3
    mr. whipple says:

    Wait a second. I’ve been reading posts all over about how she was booted from her committees, thus showing how Strong are the GOP and what Wimps the Dems are.

  4. 4
    lamh32 says:

    Interesting observations from Ambinder on GOP’s “Pledge to Rid America of that sochulist muslem in the WH”

    Why Republicans Don’t Need A “Pledge”

    …Thirdly, Republicans don’t need a Contract or a Pledge. Their base is energized. The Democrats aren’t. A Pledge that doesn’t increase the information content about the Republican brand.-The folks who are going to vote arguably know Republicans stand for the stuff in the pledge because Republicans have been talking about this stuff since the beginning of the cycle. Arguably, it gives Democrats more of a defined target, something that they can reach out with two fingers, poke eyeballs, and redirect to. Arguably-ably, a more substantive governing document, had the Republicans been able to produce such a creature, would have made it harder for Democrats to demagogue.

    Alas, this document is pretty easy to make fun of. And that’s just among conservatives. (Erick Erickson calls it “just meaningless stuff the Democrats can easily undo and that ultimately the Senate GOP will even turn its nose up at.) That’s almost indisputable. The Democrats and President Obama may have governed with an unpopular agenda, but many of the changes to the fabric of American life are permanent. Republicans will argue they are stains. And now, they’ll use the Pledge to get rid of them. (A contradiction appears: if what the Democrats did was so dastardly and so different. how is it that Republicans will be so easily able to undo it?”)

  5. 5
    Nick says:

    @mr. whipple:

    Wait a second. I’ve been reading posts all over about how she was booted from her committees, thus showing how Strong are the GOP and what Wimps the Dems are.

    The assumption by the professional left was that they would, but they voted to do otherwise.

  6. 6
    cleek says:

    it’s not exactly a huge coup for her. the fact that the Senate term is almost over makes the decision moot (as the story notes). she can keep her position until the end of her term because there’s no business left to attend to.

  7. 7
    Kryptik says:

    It happens in both parties…but guess which party tends to have its agenda suffer more for it? I really don’t see Murkowski bucking the party too much unlike a certain Mr. Lieberhack prides himself on doing.

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cleek: That is probably true. The real question is what would happen if she wins. I think, though, that we can all guess what the answer will be.

  9. 9
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cleek: That is probably true. The real question is what would happen if she wins. I think, though, that we can all guess what the answer will be.

  10. 10
    Carol says:

    There’s still a lame duck session after the election. They may still need her vote, and if they push too hard, they could push her into declaring herself an Independent or even switching parties. Considering that DADT lost by one vote, and Lisa wasn’t there to vote, having her switch would be a disaster for them. Specter gave the Dems a much needed vote on health care and the stimulus.

  11. 11
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @lamh32:

    Well I’m really liking that the front page of the NYT is full of dramatic stories about people who are immediately getting health coverage that they couldn’t get before…right next to a piece about the GOP agenda to repeal HCR.

  12. 12
    mistermix says:

    @cleek: It’s a signal to the voters of Alaska that if they elect Murkowski, she’ll keep her seniority. That’s a big deal for little states who live and die by pork, and it’s a boost to her write-in campaign.

  13. 13
    Face says:

    When’s the last time a write-in candy won an election to a Federal office?

  14. 14
    WereBear says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals: Ooooh, that sounds synchronicistically awesome!

  15. 15
    Scott P. says:

    cleek:

    If they let her keep it now, they will if she gets elected. Why wouldn’t they?

  16. 16
    PaulW says:

    @Roger the Cabin Boy:

    I think the republican senate leadership is hedging here, after all she could beat Miller and they’d still want her to caucus with them if she does (she probably would anyway, but why not play it safe?). And if Miller wins, it’s no skin off their noses.

    Agreed. Murky has a decent shot at winning – by the way, Vote for Crist! – and if she does, kicking her off everything goes a long way towards driving her over to the Dems.

    There could be every possibility, after the election if she wins, that Murkowski can still switch her caucusing to whichever side wins the majority so she can get a chairpersonship. All for the state of Alaska, naturally…

  17. 17
    PaulW says:

    One other thing of note: not everyone in the GOP is enraptured by Palin and her horde, so by limiting their punishment of Murkowski the beltway party leaders are showing that they don’t entirely support Palin’s pet Miller.

  18. 18
    Steve says:

    Miller claimed he was assured by Mitch McConnell that Murkowski would be stripped of her seniority if she won the election. This sort of makes him a liar.

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steve: It makes someone a liar. Miller may indeed that been told that. It is not as though the Republican leadership is scrupulously honest and straightforward.

  20. 20
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @WereBear:

    Let’s hope this is only the beginning.

  21. 21
    Dennis SGMM says:

    The GOP can, if they choose, quietly take back Murkowski’s committee assignments when they organize for the 112th Congress. That would save them any appearance of disunity just before the mid-terms.

    On another note, I’m a bit mystified as to why Alaskans would choose to replace the Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources with someone whose seniority will likely get him, at most, a seat on the Subcommittee on Federal Outbuildings.

  22. 22
    cleek says:

    @mistermix:
    a signal, maybe. but the voters of Alaska already had their chance to vote for her on the basis of her seniority; and they declined. or, at least the GOP voters did.

    so if it’s a signal, who is it intended for ? Dems and independents ? seems odd…

    but maybe this is overthinking. maybe they really just let it slide out of “good manners”, like Hatch said.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cleek: I think it is bet hedging. If Miller wins, Murkowski is gone and they don’t need to worry about it. She is the sitting Senator, and she was elected as a Republican. If Murkowski wins, they haven’t pissed her off.

  24. 24
    ruemara says:

    All I care about is convincing the disaffected independents and all democrats to vote for the democrat in this race. Let Murkowski muddle the waters for conservatives. It’s like choosing between people who revile you, vs those who just dislike you. My only use for her is to spoil things for the opposition.

  25. 25

    @Face: I don’t know. It’s only happened once for a Senate seat. Strom Thurmond of all people. Of course he was Governor of South Carolina before his write-in campaign. So it wasn’t like he was an unknown.

  26. 26
    Steve says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Mitch McConnell has no incentive whatsoever to make promises to Joe Miller that he can’t keep. It’s not especially plausible.

  27. 27
    Chris G. says:

    @Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle: How many plausible candidates have tried to win as a write-in, though? Is this something that no one does because no one tries?

  28. 28
    Tsulagi says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    The GOP can, if they choose, quietly take back Murkowski’s committee assignments when they organize for the 112th Congress.

    Or not so quietly.

    Committee assignments are handed out by each party before the start of the next Congress then adopted by resolution before the full Senate. To remove or change her assignments now Rs would have to do so by a new or amending resolution that is approved.

    Granted, high probability Rs could get the Ds to vote for that resolution by telling them they’re not real Americans if they don’t, or the terrorists win, or whatever random phrase salad falls out of their mouth. But they’re probably just waiting until after November when they pick assignments for the next Congress determining whose been naughty or nice.

  29. 29

    This is also proof that her presence in the race hurts Scott McAdams. If she actually helped him, the Republicans wouldn’t have just pulled her gavel, they’d have tried to get some other retribution, such as IRS audits, done against her.

  30. 30
    Bokonon says:

    Murkowski keeps her plum committee assignments why? Because of the oil and gas money behind her.

    Very simple. The GOP owes their massive donors in the energy industy, and Murkowski was (and almost certainly still is) their candidate.

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