Lisa Murkowski, Ranked Choice Voting and Trump

Lisa Murkowski had little hope of reelection in 2022, until her friends devised and implemented Prop. 2.  Her vote to impeach Trump was not an act of courage.  It was a calculated ploy to attract Democratic votes in the instant runoff, which we’ll have under Prop 2’s ranked choice voting.  Prop 2 passed because of millions of dollars from outside dark money groups and aggressive ballot harvesting.  This was ironic since it was sold as an anti-dark money law.  But that was camouflage.  Its real purpose was to help Murkowski get reelected.Sadly, there’s an excellent chance it will work.  Her principle conservative challenger, Kelly Tshibaka, is a novice politician, who succumbed to the temptation to join Trump world.  Trump’s endorsement gave her credibility, and donations, but it came at a high price.For one thing she committed to hire National Public Affairsas as her consultant, at the outlandish price of $50,000 a month.  This is a recently formed group of veterans from Trump’s unsuccessful reelection campaign.  They don’t know anything about Alaska, and have encouraged her to emphasize her ties to Trump.That’s exactly the wrong strategy, but she has made the commitment, and it’s too late for her to walk away from it.   As reported by MRAK, Democratic operative Jim Lottsfeldt has already formed a PAC, Alaskans for Lisa, which will try to convince Alaska Democrats and independents to vote for her.  His pitch will be, a vote for Murkowski is a vote against Trump.  If she emerges from the first round of voting on August 18th as the clear favorite, it will be a severe blow to Trump’s credibility as a 2024 candidate.  If he can’t beat Murkowski in Alaska, how can he claim to own the Republican Party?Lisa Murkowski does not have, and has never had, any business representing Alaska in the United States Senate.  Appointed by her father in 2003, she managed to win her 2024 race only because she successfully, and falsely, claimed to be a conservative.  That avenue was no longer open to her in 2010, and she lost the Republican primary to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller.  But the Anchorage Daily News was able to discredit Miller by setting up a journalistic ambush, allowing her financial backers to succeed in running a write in campaign on her behalf.In 2016 she was ripe to be picked off, but no credible conservative challenger emerged.  Mike Dunleavy seriously considered it, but decided to run for Governor instead.Next year she’ll be more vulnerable than ever.  Her vote against the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh was outrageous.  Her explanation, that he lacked judicial temperament, was a blatant lie.  The real reason was her expectation that Kavanaugh would be the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.Murkowski has been an embarrassment in the Senate.  She’s capricious, a liberal drama queen with limited intelligence.  She’s no more effective than her father was.  As the Wall Street Journal memorably described him in an editorial, Frank Murkowski was, at best, a utility infielder.  If it weren’t for being so closely tied to Trump, Tshibaka could have beaten her, even under ranked choice voting.  But because of Tshibaka’s identification with Trump, in the runoff Democrats and independents will happily vote for a woman they really don’t respect.If, as expected, Republicans are able to organize both the Alaska House and Senate in 2023, 2022 will be an anomaly in Alaska political history.  They’ll be able to pass a bill restoring political primaries, with only the nominees of recognized political parties competing in the general election, with ranked choice voting.  Independents who win 20-25% of the vote on primary day could also be listed as candidates.  The prohibitions against dark money will remain in place.Actually, a statute might not be necessary, since Prop 2 is probably in violation of Tashjian v. Republican Party.  But don’t expect it to be thrown out before the election.  It’s a similar situation to 1986, when the Alaska Supreme Court declared invalid the closed Republican primary.  That decision helped Sen. Ted Stevens defeat David Cuddy in the Republican Senate primary.  The Alaska Court System is friendly to some candidates, and hostile to others.  We have one of the most politically active courts in the country, and they always seem willing to help out candidates and causes that appeal to them.So, if it occurs the 2022 reelection of Murkowski will have an asterisk by it,  “Made possible because of no political primary.”  But she’ll still have six more years to pretend that she should be taken seriously.If a serious, non-Trump, Republican files by June 1st, her scheme could still be foiled. Distancing yourself from Trump, personally, while endorsing, wholeheartedly, the Trump agenda, is the winning combination.  It worked last month in Virginia.  It will work anywhere.  And there are a number of ways for a senate candidate to attract Democrat votes in the instant runoff.  I’ll volunteer my services if someone electable steps forward..
Fritz Pettyjohn was Frank Murkowski’s deputy campaign manager in 1980, and once had hopes of succeeding him in the Senate.

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