Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski did not hold back when she announced her vote to convict former President Trump for his role in the Capitol riot on January 6. In a forceful statement, she laid the blame for the riot squarely at Trump’s feet.
Naturally, Trump now wants to exact revenge — as he does against all the legislators who cross him. And Murkowski, unlike any of the other upper-chamber lawmakers who went against Trump, is up for reelection next year. But there’s a major barrier to Trump’s master plan to take her out: Alaska is really far away from Mar-a-Lago.
From The Washington Post:
Murkowski is higher on his list of enemies than other senators and lawmakers. One adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, recently said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) topped Trump’s list, then came Murkowski and then Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R). Trump does want to spend money against her, this adviser said.
Some people in his circle doubt, though, that he will be as much of a potent force in the race because traveling to campaign against her would require such a long flight, which Trump generally avoids.
Trump’s (frankly relatable) aversion to spending too much time on planes isn’t the only factor working in Murkowski’s favor. The senator is far more insulated from primary challenges than many of her colleagues, thanks to Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system and, perhaps more important, its nonpartisan, top-four primary system, which voters passed last year. The rule means that Murkowski is extremely likely to advance to a general election no matter who challenges her from the right. And it will avoid a repeat of 2010, when Murkowski lost a Republican primary, then went on to win a write-in campaign.
As The Atlantic notes, Murkowski’s move against Trump prompted little of the backlash that greeted other Trump-cult apostates like Representative Liz Cheney — likely because critics know their campaign against her would be an uphill battle.
Thus, the senator likely feels even freer to indulge her independent streak than usual. The Biden administration is trying to take advantage of this fact, attempting to win her over on legislative priorities, chiefly the coronavirus stimulus bill that will soon face a Senate vote, as well as on Cabinet votes, like Neera Tanden (whom the administration withdrew before Murkowski publicly decided either way) and Interior secretary nominee Deb Haaland (whom Murkowski said she would vote for on Thursday morning).
If Donald Trump still had a Twitter feed, he could at least hammer Murkowski for consorting with the enemy (and betraying him). But without that megaphone — and with that dreaded long flight standing between him and a more concerted effort to displace her — she is pretty well protected from the former president’s wrath and therefore in an enviable political position.