Over the past week we’ve seen a lot of attention paid to the efforts to push Republican Senator Susan Collins to vote against Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. That plan is straightforward: raise so much money now for Collins’ eventual Democratic opponent in 2020, she’ll realize her career is over if she votes “yes.” Far less attention has been paid to the efforts to push GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski to reject Kavanaugh, even though it’s an aggressive plan being led by Senate Democrats.
Collins comes from the moderate state of Maine, so it’s realistic that she could lose to a Democrat in 2020 if she votes for a far-right extremist like Brett Kavanaugh. But Murkowski comes from Alaska, which is as red as you can get. Murkowski is a rare pro-choice Republican, a reminder that Alaska’s status as a red state arguably has less to do with social conservatism and more to do with its anti-federal government views. In any case, it would be far harder for a Democrat to defeat Murkowski. However, there is another way to pressure her.
Lisa Murkowski lost the Republican primary race in 2010, and only managed to keep her Senate seat thanks to a write-in campaign which was spearheaded by the Alaska Federation of Natives. Last week we saw Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii focus heavily on Brett Kavanaugh’s stances against the rights of Natives. Sure enough, according to a major Alaska newspaper, the Federation announced today that it opposes the Kavanaugh nomination. This is a big deal.
Although Senator Murkowski isn’t up for reelection until 2022, it’s becoming clear that her political career will end in 2022 if she votes in favor of Brett Kavanaugh. If Senator Hirono made it impossible for Murkowski to vote “yes” by rallying the Natives against Kavanaugh, Senator Dianne Feinstein may have just given Murkowski an easy excuse to vote “no” by referring Kavanaugh to the FBI for criminal investigation for alleged sexual misconduct.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report