Murkowski Stripped of Committee Post?

The Republican Leadership is treating Lisa Murkowski very differently than the Democrats handled Joe Lieberman in 2006.

The Republican leadership is playing hard ball with sore loser Lisa Murkowski, having stripped her of her party leadership post and on the verge of stripping her committee leadership posts.

Senate Republicans just said they will move tomorrow to strip Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, from her post as ranking Republican on the Senate Energy Committee.

Republicans say Wednesday they will vote to elect an acting ranking member and then the full GOP conference will ratify the vote.

Republicans will also vote to elect a replacement for Murkowski in the leadership. She resigned Friday as vice chair of the Senate GOP conference.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman, John Cornyn, R-Texas, told CNN this is, “the appropriate thing to do. When you chose not to accept the judgment of the primary voters and run as a write in… it has consequences.”

Another Republican came out of the Senate GOP lunch and told CNN it was clear Murkowski has virtually no support among her colleagues anymore.

The contrast with the Democrats’ treatment of Joe Lieberman four years ago after he decided to run as an independent after his primary defeat to Ned Lamont is striking.  Despite his running against the winner of the Democratic primary and even endorsing some Republican candidates, Lieberman was allowed to keep his seniority in the Democratic caucus.

The Democrats then, like the Republicans now, were riding a wave toward picking up control of both Houses of Congress.  (I still think the GOP will fall short of re-taking the Senate, given the gap and the matchups, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.)   Like the Democrats of 2006, the Republicans of 2010 need every vote they can get in their caucus. The major difference is that Lieberman was virtually assured of winning the general election, while the current polling has Murkowski trailing Republican nominee Jim Miller.  So, it makes sense for the leadership to pull out all the stops to support their party’s candidate, whereas the Democratic leadership’s support for Lamont was relatively token.

If Murkowski somehow wins the general election, I’d expect her to caucus with the Republicans and to be allowed to retain her seniority.   But, for the moment, she’s thumbing her nose at the party’s primary voters and the leadership has to make a stand.  That’s politics.

UPDATE (9/23):  Murkowski Won’t Lose Post After All

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. On the off chance she wins, one wonders if the GOP will be willing to reinstate her seniority in exchange for her caucusing with the party……

     

  2. Tano says:

    If Murkowski somehow wins the general election, I’d expect her to caucus with the Republicans and to be allowed to retain her seniority.

     
    Well, why on earth would she do that? Having won election as an independent, and now having been gratuitously slapped down by the leadership, why wouldn’t she come to the obvious conclusion that she would be better able to serve the people of Alaska, and have more power for herself, as a member of the majority?

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    Fall in line vs. fall in love.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Having won election as an independent, and now having been gratuitously slapped down by the leadership, why wouldn’t she come to the obvious conclusion that she would be better able to serve the people of Alaska, and have more power for herself, as a member of the majority?

    It depends on what the balance of power is after the elections. I’m not sure caucusing with the Dems gets her anywhere in Alaska, though.

  5. Trumwill says:

    I’d imagine she takes a “wait and see” attitude before caucusing, but that ultimately they will restore at least some of her leadership position the same way they did for Bob Smith if she caucuses with them. Tano’s advice on caucusing with the majority may be good, but also may be short-sighted. Assuming that the Dems have a majority, it’s likely not to be a very large one and it may have a shelf-life of just two more years since all of those Democrats that swept into office in 2006 will be defending their seats.

  6. Tano says:

    I think the odds are that 2012 will not shift the Senate to the GOP if it hasnt gone there in 2010. ’12 is a presidential year, and as things look now, its hard for me to imagine any Republican having what it takes to knock off an incumbent.
     
    Murkowski is a “bring home the bacon” kind of politician in a state that has always expected exactly that from the people they send to Washington. As a member of the majority she can establish herself in the hearts of Alaskans just like Ted Stevens and Don Young did for all those years.

  7. Andre Kenji says:

    Joe Miller, not Jim Miller.

  8. Trumwill says:

    I think the odds are that 2012 will not shift the Senate to the GOP if it hasnt gone there in 2010. ’12 is a presidential year, and as things look now, its hard for me to imagine any Republican having what it takes to knock off an incumbent.
     
    I would put the odds of the GOP capturing the White House at less than 50/50, probably less than 40/60. However, I believe that GOP turnout will probably be enthusiastic and if they lose it will be on the basis of moderates and independents (who might prefer “divided government” and vote Republican for senate if their main reason for voting for Obama is a lackluster GOP nominee). So I don’t think that the Republican congressional delegation will take a huge hit.
     
    Rather, I think it will be like 2000 where Democrats gained 6 seats despite losing seats in the House and failing to win the presidential vote by a significant margin. They picked up 5 seats because they were running against the Class of 1994, which included a lot of Republicans that wouldn’t have been elected were it not for the Republican Revolt or squeaked by in an increasingly hostile state. The Democrats will be defending seats in Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Nebraska, and other potential pickups while the Republicans lost most of their vulnerable states in 2000 and 2006 (Maine excepted, with maybes in Indiana and Nevada).
     
    If the GOP makes it close after this election, I think 2012 could really go either way even if Obama wins by a relatively comfortable margin.