When Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) chose to cross the line earlier this year and join six other Republican senators in voting to impeach Donald Trump, she had to have known that she was stirring up trouble for herself. The 45th President is well-known for prizing loyalty above most other personal attributes and he hasn’t tended to suffer those who he perceives as betraying him lightly. But Murkowski was in a uniquely more vulnerable position than the other six Republican “yes” voters because she was the only one of the group facing reelection in the 2022 midterms. Now Trump is telegraphing his punches and letting it be known that he has neither forgotten nor forgiven Senator Murkowski’s decision. In an interview with The Hill, Trump promised that he was going to be actively engaged in working to boot her from office, saying that he will travel to Alaska next year to campaign against her in the primary.
Former President Trump vowed to travel to Alaska to campaign against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) next year as she seeks reelection…
“I will not be endorsing, under any circumstances, the failed candidate from the great State of Alaska, Lisa Murkowski. She represents her state badly and her country even worse. I do not know where other people will be next year, but I know where I will be – in Alaska campaigning against a disloyal and very bad Senator,” Trump said in a statement to The Hill. “Her vote to advance radical left democrat Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior is yet another example of Murkowski not standing up for Alaska.”
The threat marks the latest indication that Trump plans to heavily insert himself into 2022 races across the country.
Murkowski has been busy wheeling and dealing this year, drawing the ire of Republicans and conservatives as she navigates her way toward her reelection bid. She’s being seen as not only having abandoned Donald Trump but also playing footsie with Joe Biden and the Democrats, particularly on cabinet confirmation votes.
The reality is that she doesn’t have all that much of a choice. She’s trying to push for policies favorable to her constituents in Alaska, particularly from the Department of the Interior. She’s used to working both sides of the fence and maintaining her moderate or independent credentials. Keep in mind that back in 2010 she lost the Republican primary but came back to win her race through a write-in campaign. Alaskans seem to appreciate an independent streak and place less value on a hard partisan stance.
Murkowski has been in Trump’s crosshairs for a while now. She first drew the former President’s ire in 2018 when she voted against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Now that she’s being seen as working with the Democrats on some confirmation votes in exchange for whatever promises have been made to her, she obviously has a target on her back.
How much of a difference could Trump make in Alaska next year? As we previously discussed, Donald Trump is already urging conservatives to bypass traditional RNC fundraising channels and donate directly to his Save America PAC. This is causing plenty of headaches for party leaders who are torn between trying to fundraise off of Trump’s popularity and the risk of invoking his anger. If Donald Trump can suck enough oxygen (and cash) out of the primary race in Alaska, Murkowski’s path to another term could become considerably more difficult.
But then again, perhaps not. Alaska has moved to a ranked-choice voting system for its primaries. The top four finishers in the primary will move on to the general election, where Murkowski’s proven appeal to moderates and independents could end up carrying her over the finish line anyway. But given the length of the shadow that Donald Trump is obviously still casting across the political landscape, I’m sure she would prefer to not be on his enemies list for the next two years.