Democrats flirting with — and nervous about — Murkowski

posted at 3:35 pm on September 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Time’s Jay Newton-Small noticed something interesting at a Lisa Murkowski rally in Alaska last Friday evening.  The Republican Senator had some prominent Democrats joining her on the dais, which underscores the threat to both Republican Joe Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams from a Murkowski write-in campaign.  It may well draw more votes away from McAdams than Miller, and McAdams cannot afford to lose any:

There will be two names on the ballot in the Alaska race for U.S. Senate this November: Joe Miller and Scott McAdams. But in events today for both those candidates the 800-pound gorilla in the room was incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski, who announced Friday she will seek a write in bid to keep her seat after losing the GOP primary to Miller last month.

McAdams’s press conference to unveil his five-point education plan was aimed at leaching teacher support from Murkowski. The National Education Association early on endorsed Murkowski and the group on Friday reaffirmed their endorsement of her candidacy, even as a write in. But McAdams, who has the support of the AFL-CIO, believes that rank-and-file teachers will come his way when they realize what a long shot Murkowski’s candidacy is. “I have a natural connection with teachers,” says McAdams, who got his start in politics petitioning the school board that he would eventually sit on to allow him to form a football team. “And I believe in the hearts and minds to teachers they will recognize that I am the true school advocate in this race.”

The Sitka mayor — the fifth largest town in Alaska, McAdams was quick to point out, right behind Wasilla — seemed nervous in my interview with him, though that may be due to his lack of experience with national reporters and issues. He has good reason to be nervous. Murkowski poses as much, if not a greater threat to him than she does to Miller. McAdams has yet to prove himself as a viable candidate to the powers that be in Washington and, though he’s raised $300,000 in the last three weeks, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has yet to invest in his campaign beyond dispatching a few staffers. There were also some prominent Democrats at Murkowski’s Friday night rally, leading to local speculation the Dems might be flirting with Murkowski in case she actually wins.

It depends on whether Murkowski actually intends to campaign to win, or to conduct a dog-in-the-manger campaign to kneecap Miller out of spite.  If she wants to win, she can’t do it by running as a conservative; she tried that and lost in the primary.  She will have to do a Charlie Crist instead, painting herself as a reasonable moderate that neither party can match — and to do that, she’ll have to triangulate more on McAdams’ agenda than on Miller’s.

The guest list to her event seems to indicate that Murkowski wants to go for the win.  Having prominent Democrats as part of her rally (Newton-Small doesn’t identify them or their specific prominence) indicates that she’s taking aim at conservative-to-moderate Democrats and independent voters.  Plus, the fact that they showed up at all demonstrates a lack of confidence in their own nominee, in a similar situation to Florida’s Democrats when Crist was leading in the polls.

That didn’t work out well for either the Democrat or the independent in that race, and it probably won’t work any better in Alaska, either.  Newton-Small gets the relevant history wrong in this case:

A write in candidacy is incredibly difficult and has never been done successfully in Alaska. The last person to try was former Gov. Wally Hickel — whom I interviewed last year for my Palin story but, I’m sorry to say, passed away in May — in 1978. He got 26.4% of the vote and that was using stickers that voters could affix to the ballots – a practice banned by Alaska a decade ago.

As Eric Ostermeier reported at Smart Politics last week, that’s not accurate.  The last write-in campaign took place in 1998, where three write-in candidates vied for the governor’s seat.  The most successful of the three, Robin Taylor, got 18.9% of the vote — and that was with the GOP endorsement.  The Republican nominee in the race got embroiled in scandal, causing the GOP to pull its endorsement and attempt to get Taylor in via the write-in method.  Even with major party backing, fewer than one in five voters bothered to write in Taylor’s name.

But Newton-Small is right about the potential draw of those  who do bother to write in Murkowski’s name.  They’re just as likely to be Democrats as Republicans or independents — and perhaps more likely.


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Ed, how about mentioning that is is a Democrat who started the Write in Murkowski campaign. She is on FaceBook.

No one seems to mention that.

Anyone wonder why I am worried now?

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 3:38 PM

If the democrats want Murkowski to win the democrat candidate should drop out and throw his support to Murkowski. That would be interesting.

Skandia Recluse on September 21, 2010 at 3:40 PM

OT: For anyone who lives in Tucson, AZ, Rep. Raul “Boycott My Own State” Grijalva (D) is in danger of losing his seat to an unknown 28 year old female physicist. NRO has the details.

Please help Ruth McClung if you can.

commodore on September 21, 2010 at 3:40 PM

She’s Sandra Bernhard’s twin.

SirGawain on September 21, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Wikipedia is going to put this woman’s face next to their entry for sore loser!

joedoe on September 21, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Anyone wonder why I am worried now?

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 3:38 PM

Why? If Murkowski’s write-in campaigned is pushed by Democrats, they are just shooting themselves in the head.

As the poll shows; a 3-way race benefits one candidate: Miller.

Norwegian on September 21, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Anyone wonder why I am worried now?

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 3:38 PM

Yes, being up there, what are your views about this race?

cozmo on September 21, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Ed, how about mentioning that is is a Democrat who started the Write in Murkowski campaign. She is on FaceBook.

No one seems to mention that.

Anyone wonder why I am worried now?

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 3:38 PM

thanks for the update. You’re the best source of info from AK that we have around here.

ted c on September 21, 2010 at 3:43 PM

RINOs going independent seem to draw the majority of their support from Democrats. What does that tell you about them and their policy positions?

Clark1 on September 21, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Norwegian on September 21, 2010 at 3:41 PM
cozmo on September 21, 2010 at 3:43 PM

because it will take WEEKS. They may say Miller or McAdams is at such and such a percentage. But unless Miller OR McAdams has 56% of the vote… it is going to be one long out race. Weeks.. with people having to recount twice and it all placed in Juneau. Liberal Capital for Alaska.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I think she can run as a bring home the bacon moderate who is also pro-choice and get plenty of Dems… she won’t have a big of difficulty has Charlie Crist with regard to positioning herself…

ninjapirate on September 21, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Ed, how about mentioning that is is a Democrat who started the Write in Murkowski campaign. She is on FaceBook.

No one seems to mention that.

Anyone wonder why I am worried now?

upinak on September 21, 2010

I can’t see Alaskans going for these shenanigans any more than the good people of Florida. When someone becomes a turncoat you can never really trust when they’ll do it again. Murky will pick up votes here and there but I don’t see any real damage done by her. After all, what is the reason for her running now…what energizes the campaign? Looks like ego and ego alone.

Alaskans are going to vote for that?

JonPrichard on September 21, 2010 at 3:48 PM

the 800-pound gorilla in the room was incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski

Well, that just isn’t nice at all…

KeepOhioRed on September 21, 2010 at 3:49 PM

The Repubs better strip this loser of all her standing in the party…

d1carter on September 21, 2010 at 3:49 PM

Dems, here’s a word of advice… don’t stick your dick in crazy and don’t caucus with it either.

Then again, they’ll probably do the opposite just because I said it, so go right ahead.

teke184 on September 21, 2010 at 3:50 PM

If these kinds of antics, and associations don’t send a message loud, and clear, that said person is undeserving of any win in this election, than we’re doomed.

Murkowski ran on conservative values. When that failed her, she courts the Dems, to get what she wants. Really? Is this really what we want running our country?

When these stunts are pulled, it’s blatantly clear that the person is more concerned about their power than anything else, and must be unseated. Immediately!!!

Lisa…go home now, and take it out on a grizzly.

capejasmine on September 21, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Alaskans are going to vote for that?

JonPrichard on September 21, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Most Alaskans I know, don’t even watch the news. Most Alaskans I know, will vote for a name they recognize.

Someone will say different, but I would tell you not to be surprised on the percentages. Those in the Bush will probably vote for Murkowsi as well as some of the outlyings areas and Anchorage. Wasilla/Palmer/Fairbanks is going to vote for Miller possibly as well as the Ron Paulians. But McAdams is going to get quite a bit from the Panhandle.. Juneau/Sitka(obviously)/Ketchican.. the bridge to no where town who still WANTS the bridge.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 3:52 PM

She will have to do a Charlie Crist instead, painting herself as a reasonable moderate that neither party can match — and to do that, she’ll have to triangulate more on McAdams’ agenda than on Miller’s.

With the lead in, I expected the Alaska Democrat Party was going to boot their candidate replacing with Murko. It isn’t as if that party has an aversion to skulduggery; anything for the win.

maverick muse on September 21, 2010 at 3:54 PM

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 3:44 PM

Just curious-

Why 56%?

cs89 on September 21, 2010 at 3:54 PM

Who the hell is McAdams? :)

ThePrez on September 21, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Murkowski is showing that voters were absolutely right in canning her ass. No principles, no honor, no integrity.

darwin on September 21, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Just curious-

Why 56%?

cs89 on September 21, 2010 at 3:54 PM

opps I meant 36%. Sorry.. I have a serious migraine.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 3:58 PM

All y’all Murkowski writers in, be careful gettin behind a RINO. They’s retromingent.

Akzed on September 21, 2010 at 3:59 PM

upanik, is there a run-off if no one cracks 50%?

Wethal on September 21, 2010 at 4:00 PM

All y’all Murkowski writers in, be careful gettin behind a RINO. They’s retromingent.

Akzed on September 21, 2010 at 3:59 PM

No one cares about Murkowski today. It is the announcement of the PFD/royalty check.. we get 1281.00 on oct. 7th.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:02 PM

commodore on September 21, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Wow. Good for McClung.

“Sometimes is does take a rocket scientist.”

I hope she wins Tucson’s congressional seat.

maverick muse on September 21, 2010 at 4:02 PM

In Alaska do you have to win with at least 50.1 % of the vote ?
Maybe if that is NOT the case she is playing for 2nd place and forcing a run off and then trying to beat him head on in a Runoff?
Then again what does the WILL OF THE PEOPLE have to do with it ?
She COULD have won by a landslide , looks like the good folks in Alaska have had their fill of her ?

ELMO Q on September 21, 2010 at 4:03 PM

upanik, is there a run-off if no one cracks 50%?

Wethal on September 21, 2010 at 4:00 PM

I don’t know. I do have a feeling someone is going to ask for a recall though.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:03 PM

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:02 PM

Out of curiosity, what are the age constraints on that benefit?

maverick muse on September 21, 2010 at 4:03 PM

Akzed on September 21, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Her own campaign staff misspelled her name in its first ad.

maverick muse on September 21, 2010 at 4:05 PM

Someone please explain to me what’s going on here.

Do the old bulls see this as the last gasp, they have to cling to this seat or they’ll be smothered by Palin’s coattails in the governorship, Begich’s seat, Young’s seat?

Is this all just one very angry Murkowski? Or two?

If she thought she had any kind of future at all in the GOP I’d think she’d have taken this as an aberration and worked on taking Begich’s seat away next time. Or the governorship.

Does she really think she’s got the Obama Cult Of Personality thing working for her?

JEM on September 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Wow, they sure don’t go gently in to that good night do they?

rollthedice on September 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM

opps I meant 36%. Sorry.. I have a serious migraine.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 3:58 PM

I have felt your pain. Max-Alt 10mg, the most wonderful drug I’ve ever taken. Sixty bucks a tablet. Wish I could afford them. It is the first time I could understand how someone could get hooked on pain killers.

Good Luck.

Skandia Recluse on September 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Out of curiosity, what are the age constraints on that benefit?

maverick muse on September 21, 2010 at 4:03 PM

none. You have to be up here 2 years before you get it, you have to be active duty saying you will come back to the state to recieve it and you have to live up here without leaving the state for more then 90 days.

Snow birds are getting hit as they leave for 6 months and apply. Military are getting hit as they don’t come back. Students have to prove they are in school.

Other than that… it isn’t worth moving up here for, but it is a nice check to have.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Skandia Recluse on September 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM

ty. My spelling sucks as it is.. but you know how it goes with a migraine. I am taking oxyprozin, but it isn’t working.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:08 PM

I don’t know. I do have a feeling someone is going to ask for a recall though.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:03 PM

I’m pretty sure you can’t recall the subject of a federal election.

teke184 on September 21, 2010 at 4:11 PM

“Principles, schminciples! My Daddy gave me this seat and I intend on keeping it!!!”

Bruce MacMahon on September 21, 2010 at 4:12 PM

I’m pretty sure you can’t recall the subject of a federal election.

teke184 on September 21, 2010 at 4:11 PM

what are you talking about?

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:15 PM

It’s funny how this “Republican Civil War” I’ve heard about literally thousands of times in the past year ends up splitting Democrat votes more often than not.

logis on September 21, 2010 at 4:19 PM

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 3:58 PM

Ah, I see.

Be well.

cs89 on September 21, 2010 at 4:19 PM

I’m pretty sure you can’t recall the subject of a federal election.

teke184 on September 21, 2010 at 4:11 PM

what are you talking about?

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:15 PM

In New Orleans, a large number of “church groups” attempted to recall Rep. Joe Cao the day after he beat William Jefferson, but as far as I understand the law wouldn’t allow them to do it.

That may only apply to Louisiana law, but I’m not familiar with a case where a recall was done on a US-level politician such as a House member or Senator, as opposed to a Governor or other state-level office.

teke184 on September 21, 2010 at 4:19 PM

Miller said last night that he now runs against two liberals.

Schadenfreude on September 21, 2010 at 4:21 PM

From Wiki, so take it with a grain of salt-

“United States Senator Frank Church of Idaho was the subject of an unsuccessful recall effort in 1967.[10] Courts ruled that a federal official is not subject to state recall laws. See also the similar unsuccessful effort in 2009 to recall Anh “Joseph” Cao, U.S. representative for Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district.”

teke184 on September 21, 2010 at 4:21 PM

That may only apply to Louisiana law, but I’m not familiar with a case where a recall was done on a US-level politician such as a House member or Senator, as opposed to a Governor or other state-level office.

teke184 on September 21, 2010 at 4:19 PM

I don’t know Teke. What I can do later this week is go talk to the election people as see what they say. Heck the Lt Gov still hasn’t decided if Murkowski’s name has to be spelled correctly or not on the write in.

Every state is different via laws. BUT I do know, that someone is going to get pissy and will ask for a recall. That is a given.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:23 PM

I am taking oxyprozin, but it isn’t working.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:08 PM

Just give up- get in bed, turn out the lights.

pseudonominus on September 21, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Just give up- get in bed, turn out the lights.

pseudonominus on September 21, 2010 at 4:26 PM

thanks I think lol.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Just more evidence of the cracks in the establishment edifice. The tea party among others are applying pressure as never known before in modern time. We’re flushing out the Murkowskis and Crists and Castles, the frauds and opportunists and quislings. Or, in some cases, simply the liberals. They can’t stand it. Their wailing and lamentations have only begun.

Before this is over Murkowski will have become whatever she thinks she needs to become to remain a senator. It won’t be a conservative, and it won’t be successful.

rrpjr on September 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM

My biggest concern is her coming out as what she is, a RINO Democrat. Since the Democrat party has even fewer principles than the Republican (not saying much) and she’s clearly making eyes at them, why wouldn’t they just kick McAdams off the ballot and replace him with Mercooksky. (I refuse to spell her name correctly.)

She was trying to finagle the Libertarian Party to give her the place on the ballot, why wouldn’t she be lobbying behind closed doors with the Democrat party for the same idea. Alaska’s law seems to allow it, unless that deadline has passed, so it might be possible. Due to her name recognition, she’d run closer to Miller in a head to head than McAdams would.

I still think she’d lose, but it would be a frightening thought. Not to mention they may feel if they give her the spot, they can buy her votes for the remaining 3 months of the year.

njrob on September 21, 2010 at 4:38 PM

The National Education Association early on endorsed Murkowski and the group on Friday reaffirmed their endorsement of her candidacy, even as a write in. But McAdams, who has the support of the AFL-CIO, believes that rank-and-file teachers will come his way when they realize what a long shot Murkowski’s candidacy is.

A mask-ripping if I ever saw one. Will Alaskan parents stand for the politicization of their schools or will they, too, reject Progg-Thug-Unions?

RushBaby on September 21, 2010 at 4:50 PM

A mask-ripping if I ever saw one. Will Alaskan parents stand for the politicization of their schools or will they, too, reject Progg-Thug-Unions?

RushBaby on September 21, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Let’s see if they are smarter than the voters in D.C.

Schadenfreude on September 21, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Go, Lisa. Go! Change parties and become a Dem. Please. The purge is on and the RINO’s are helping us out. Oh Arizona. If only y’all had voted for JD.

Hey “Tokyo” and Dr. Sourpuss, when will you be leaving?

JimP on September 21, 2010 at 4:58 PM

thanks I think lol.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Try a little something with a high caffein content. I know it helps some people. If my headaches aren’t sinus, it occasionally helps me.

I think I’m misreading you. Did you mean recall, or recount?

BillH on September 21, 2010 at 5:12 PM

OT: For anyone who lives in Tucson, AZ, Rep. Raul “Boycott My Own State” Grijalva (D) is in danger of losing his seat to an unknown 28 year old female physicist. NRO has the details.

Please help Ruth McClung if you can.

commodore on September 21, 2010 at 3:40 PM

WoW!
Thanks commodore and good luck! I’m not in AZ but I’m glad to support this fine young lady. Let’s drop a money bomb on this race people!

mike_NC9 on September 21, 2010 at 5:17 PM

How to write in her name:

MurCristSki

Steve Z on September 21, 2010 at 5:21 PM

The Republican leadership in the US Senate needs to strip her of all committee positions and relocate her office to the basement…

Its tough to play when you’re always dodging fastballs aimed at your head…

Khun Joe on September 21, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Wow… has anyone found a picture of this woman where she does not look severely crazy and disturbed?

paragon27x on September 21, 2010 at 6:01 PM

I think I’m misreading you. Did you mean recall, or recount?

BillH on September 21, 2010 at 5:12 PM

recount. pills are making me tired and goofy. damn construction outside is pounding.

upinak on September 21, 2010 at 6:18 PM

upinak, imitrex works for my migraines, and just went generic a while back, so not terribly expensive… good luck

jodetoad on September 21, 2010 at 7:55 PM

If the Dems are even thinking of throwing their weight to Murky, then they have a problem. They have to assume that Murky is pulling in next to none of the Republican support.

Why?

He’s got 42%. If Murky has any support and the Dems throw their weight to, then what is the chance that Republican support will stay with her? Go to Independent is one thing, switching parties is another. Any percent pulled off from Murky to Miller by switching means he gets incrementally stronger and the Dems have to unite everyone behind Murky.

With 58% being split in favor of Murky, that also means that the Dems have no one able to pull over 25% Statewide for a US Senate race inside their own party: they have to get the Republican loser to be viable. That speaks poorly to the Dems party structure in AK.

Given that, how many Dem voters will be turned off by shifting to Murky? She can’t take the Dems place on the ballot and his name just might pull a few percent (say 5%) in even if he quits today. That nibbles down the 58% to 53%, which is still viable. Lose another 1-2% for poor spelling to get it to 51%. Now what percent of Dems and leaning Dem Indies can you lose to disenchantment? Remember the Republicans are supercharged right now, they will lose next to no one if Miller just stays on a steady course. Every percent lost to not voting shifts the percentages to Miller, and it is not 1:1 but more like 1:1.1, so losing 3% is like giving Miller 3.3% due to the smaller voter pool. Keep the 7% lost to stupidity and by wrote voting, then you are moving to 47/45 race. Lose 4% to disenchantment and its a dead heat. Lose 5% and you are toast with Murky… and have slapped your own pary in the face to back a loser from the other party. All while praying she is only splitting Dem committed votes only and has little to no Republican backing.

Those percentages matter, and if there is any drop-off on Dem participation then they are toast with Murky and just about anyone else they can run.

That is a world of pain for the Dems in AK no matter which way they turn, and if they make one single, solitary, wrong move then they are toasty. And even if they make all the right moves, they still face a really nasty race during a cycle where the standard class warfare tropes just don’t hold any water.

Good luck on that.

Make sure you get a Wiccan up there to keep the dead at rest on election day.

ajacksonian on September 21, 2010 at 9:13 PM

She made her deal with the Dems before she announced. This is going to be real ugly.

The political insiders vs the People.

skeeter on September 22, 2010 at 4:07 AM