Murkowski goes rogue

by
December 24, 2010

By Meredith Shiner, Politico

Lisa Murkowski isn’t gunning down caribou on national TV like that other famous Alaskan, but the Republican lawmaker is going rogue in the Senate just weeks after staging the most stunning back-from-the-dead political win of the 2010 cycle.

Murkowski is already showing a fierce independent streak, becoming the only Republican to cast votes on all four items on President Barack Obama’s wish list: a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a tax-cut compromise, the START deal and cloture for the DREAM Act.

The lame-duck votes capped a strange political odyssey for the Alaska Republican — one that started Aug. 31 when she conceded the GOP primary to tea-party-backed Joe Miller, continued when she resigned her leadership job in September and ended when she waged Alaska’s first successful statewide write-in bid to retain her seat. (See: The ABC’s of Murkowski’s write-in bid)

Now, she heads back to the Senate with a fresh six-year term without owing much to either her home state party establishment or her Washington leadership.

Murkowski’s willingness to defy Republican top brass after a bitter fight to keep her seat may mark a pivotal point in her career as she emerges as a real maverick foil to Sarah Palin, the conservative idol who put Alaska politics on the national map. And while conservatives who helped oust Murkowski from the GOP ticket in Alaska may howl about her being a “Republican In Name Only,” Murkowski could enjoy a powerful perch as a much-sought-after moderate in an almost evenly divided Senate. (See: Murkowski: Palin’s no leader)

“She’s a person who makes up her own mind, does what she thinks is right and always keeps the concerns of her state at the forefront,” moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told POLITICO of Murkowski, adding that the Alaskan was an important ally in helping overturn DADT.

“I can’t speak for Lisa’s plans; all I can tell you is that she is an extraordinarily effective senator and I’m sure she’s going to continue to play an absolutely critical role in the caucus and in the Senate.”

Collins, who calls Murkowski one of her “favorite people,” is not alone in her praise. Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) emphasized Murkowski’s pragmatism as a venerable partner in attacking energy issues that typically draw partisan ire.

To read more, visit: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46695.html#ixzz18xbZO0uK

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