In Fresh Plea to Supporters, Murkowski Hypes Her Role on Energy Panel

Posted September 24, 2010 at 9:09pm

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is hoping to profit from her colleagues’ recent decision to retain her as ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The Alaska Republican’s colleagues chose to keep her in the post, even though she crossed her party’s leadership by seeking re-election as a write-in candidate against Joe Miller, the GOP nominee in Alaska.

In a Friday e-mail to supporters, Murkowski campaign manager Kevin Sweeney noted that the Senate Republican Conference voted Wednesday to “affirm” Murkowski’s seniority on the committee.

In his message, Sweeney took a subtle swipe at Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), who was among those Republicans pushing for Murkowski to be stripped of her ranking status — both to boost Miller and to punish the Senator for jeopardizing an otherwise likely win for the GOP.

“Senator Murkowski’s Republican colleagues voted to affirm her seniority and Ranking Member status on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee,” Sweeney wrote. “This despite pressure from Joe’s self described ‘political hero’ to strip Senator Murkowski and Alaska of this critical position. An Alaskan Senator has always served on this committee because of its importance to our economy and state’s agenda. One would hope that Joe would understand how valuable it is to have an Alaskan in line to serve as the next Chairman of this Committee.”

Miller, a Fairbanks attorney, beat Murkowski in last month’s primary. The Senate Republican leadership team, which at that point included Murkowski, fell in line behind Miller and urged Alaska’s senior Senator to accept the results of the primary and retire. The National Republican Senatorial Committee also backed Miller.

But Murkowski resigned her position as Conference vice chairwoman and chose instead to run as a write-in candidate. She was expected to lose her ranking slot on Energy and Natural Resources in a secret ballot vote of the Republican Conference held Wednesday.

However, several of Murkowski’s colleagues, who according to GOP sources were led by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), offered motions of support for the Alaskan during the closed-door meeting, helping her to maintain her position on the panel.

Sweeney, in the e-mail, suggested that a Miller victory on Nov. 2 would be detrimental to Alaska, an energy-producing state that has a major stake in the Energy and Natural Resources panel’s agenda.

Sweeney also criticized Miller for his plan to spend next week in Washington, D.C., meeting with Republican leaders and raising money from K Street lobbyists.

“Hypocritically, he is on his way back to DC to rub elbows at fundraisers hosted by these same Senate Republicans where the DC elite will be asked to pay up to $5,000 to support Joe’s efforts to make the Alaska delegation less effective. So much for standing up to the influence of DC,” Sweeney wrote.

The most recent public poll of the three-way Alaska Senate race showed Miller in front with 42 percent, followed by Murkowski at 27 percent and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D) at 25 percent. The Rasmussen Reports survey of 500 likely voters was conducted Sept. 19 and had a margin of error of 4.5 points.