The GOP Senate primary yesterday took a very interesting turn when everyone realized that entrenched incumbent Lisa Murkowski is trailing upstart challenger Joe Miller by about 2000 votes (2 percentage points in a primary turnout of less than 90,000). Absentee ballots have yet to be counted, but there’s no question that Murkowski is on the ropes with a longer than long shot at regaining the lead.
The huge potential upset stems from a proxy war being waged between Sarah Palin and the Murkowskis, a heavy-hitting Alaskan political family that has been around a long times. Palin endorsed Miller, and a win by the candidate also backed by the Tea Party would go a long way toward proving the political viability of both of Miller’s backers. Murkowski recognizes the role Palin played in her nearly finished defeat; it’s why she groused to reporters last night about Palin making the race “personal.”
But, gosh darn it, wouldn’t you know that these entrenched Republican incumbents just refuse to let go of power? Even before a final winner is announced, rumors are flying that like Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist before her, Murkowski may leave the party to continue to run for office after losing a primary. Allahpundit notes that she cannot file as an independent since Alaska has a sore loser rule where independents must file before the day of the primary to, you know, prevent situations like this.
The only viable option appears to be for a party’s newly elected candidate to step down and then have that party name Murkowski as their new representative. On a whim, Drew from Ace of Spades shot an e-mail to Libertarian candidate David Haase and got a weird response back about the Message being more important than the Messenger and seeming to suggest that he might be open to the possibility. Of course this just throws more fuel on the fire of speculation.
I don’t have a particularly huge beef with Lisa Murkowski, other than being a member of the incumbent Washington power class (which, let’s face it, the next Senator from Alaska will probably buy into as well. Sigh…). Here’s the thing, though – if you lose a primary, that means – surprise! – you lost. Take your defeat and try again the next time. I’ve nearly had it with these politicians who believe their governing skills are so incredibly and singularly important that they’ll move heaven and earth, switch positions, pander to absolutely anyone, even those they previously demonized, to keep themselves in the running. If Murkowski does indeed end up losing to Joe Miller, she should do the honorable thing and leave the race.
But she’s a politician, so I’m probably setting my sights a tad too high.