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Kavanaugh Column, News

Lisa Murkowski: Reluctant Maverick

This week, the Kavanaugh Column is taking a closer look at the undecided senators in the middle of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight, two pro-abortion Republicans and three Democrats who are from strongly pro-life states. Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski steps into the spotlight today.

 “Have Senate Democrats already lost on Kavanaugh?”, asked Vanity Fair yesterday. The magazine cites the languid response by Susan Collins and Murkowski to an email Kavanaugh was questioned on in the hearing, in which he suggested that Roe v. Wade should not be characterized as “settled law.” Vanity Fair suggested that with conservative Republican John Kyl now sitting in John McCain’s former seat, there are forty-nine solid votes for Kavanaugh – meaning the pro-abortion senators would have to vote together to block the nomination, an unlikely scenario.

Senator Collins of Maine is widely regarded as the key vote on the confirmation, but Kavanaugh’s supporters can’t assume Murkowski will follow Collins’ lead. There are reasons Murkowski may decide to play the maverick, even if she can’t stop Kavanaugh without Collins’ vote and runs the risk of Kavanaugh rolling up three to five Democratic senators to boot. The Huffington Post hit Murkowski hard over the weekend with a piece detailing all the reasons native Alaskans would want the senator to vote Kavanaugh down, ranging from his alleged views on climate change to a possible Supreme Court vote on state control over waters on federal lands. These all tie into the biggest reason Murkowski may go rogue – her uneasy relationship with the national Republican Party. HuffPo notes that Murkowski’s senate race in 2010 went off the rails after a primary loss to a Tea Party candidate, and it claims indigenous Alaskans saved her run as an Independent when the party abandoned her.