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October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the U.S. Senate’s two openly pro-abortion Republicans, may face primary challenges from one of two nationally-popular conservative women following her decision to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.
President Donald Trump’s pick to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed by a 50-48 vote Saturday, following a bitter three-month battle over his abortion views and unsubstantiated, last-minute allegations of sexual assault. Resistance was particularly steep because Kavanaugh might provide the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to directly ban abortion.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the Senate’s other pro-abortion Republican, decided to support Kavanaugh after concluding his interpretation of stare decisis (the doctrine of judicial precedent) meant he was actually likely to uphold Roe (a possibility some pro-lifers fear and others dismiss).
Murkowski agreed with that assessment and that Kavanaugh is a “good man,” but ultimately decided he was not “the right person for the court at this time” due to the divisiveness of the confirmation process. At the same time, she voted “present” rather than “nay” as a courtesy to Sen. Steve Daines, R-MT, who supported Kavanaugh but had a scheduling conflict with his daughter’s wedding.
Speaking for many outraged Republicans, the president denounced Murkowski’s decision as “very frankly disgraceful,” and predicted that “the people from Alaska will never forgive her for what she did.”
Now, two women may be counting on that prediction: former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and conservative commentator Laura Ingraham.
“Hey @LisaMurkowski – I can see 2022 from my house,” Palin tweeted on Friday, playing off a popular misquote attributed to Palin for years by her critics.
Hey @LisaMurkowski – I can see 2022 from my house…
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) October 5, 2018
Ingraham, a radio pundit and Fox News host who is also the co-founder of LifeZette, tweeted the same day that she “like[s] Alaska…a lot. Maybe it’s time to run for Senate after all.”
I like Alaska…a lot. Maybe it’s time to run for Senate after all. @lisamurkowski has abandoned all principles of due process and fairness. Disgraceful. “#ConfirmKavanaugh
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 5, 2018
Both women are pro-life and align more closely with the conservative grassroots than with the GOP establishment. As a past Alaska officeholder, Palin would presumably have an advantage over the Connecticut-born, D.C. resident Ingraham, though relocating for political bids is by no means unheard of. It remains to be seen how serious either is about her tweets.
“Palin is the woman who, in 2006, defeated Murkowski's father in a Republican primary to become the first female governor of Alaska,” The Week’s Kathryn Krawczyk recalls. “Frank Murkowski had served just one term as governor after a long stint in the Senate, though he actually appointed his daughter to fill his seat when he won the governorship in 2002.”
Regardless of who throws a hat in the ring, many conservatives believe that replacing Murkowski is long overdue, with some arguing that there’s blame to go around for why it hasn’t happened yet.
Conservative Review senior editor Daniel Horowitz wrote Friday that too many of the conservatives “reminiscing about the 2010 primary, when Joe Miller successfully wrestled the GOP nomination away from Murkowski, only to lose to her in a write-in bid for the general election” have seemingly forgotten that Miller challenged Murkowski again as a third-party candidate in 2016, “after six more years of betrayals.”
“Murkowski only got 44 percent of the vote. Miller had a strong showing at 30 percent, but had not a penny to his name because no conservative organization, much less the party establishment, focused on him,” Horowitz recalls. “Don’t give me the excuse of party labels. Everyone knew that Miller was really a conservative Republican using the [Libertarian] party for ballot access and that he would be a solid vote for all Trump’s nominees.”
“A healthy conservative movement would have ensured that McConnell and party leaders denied Murkowski support for the GOP nomination in 2016 after she left the party in 2010, was pro-abortion, and failed to exhibit a modicum of support for anything in the party’s platform,” he laments, warning readers to pay closer attention to primary battles in this and future election cycles.
Murkowski holds a pro-Roe litmus test for judicial nominees, lists “maintaining access to Planned Parenthood facilities” among her “healthcare” priorities, opposes bans on embryo-killing research, and has worked to obstruct Trump’s efforts to defund abortions abroad. She was also instrumental in killing last year’s effort to repeal Obamacare and temporarily defund Planned Parenthood.