Is Lisa Murkowski Cheating?

September 30, 2010

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[Editor’s note: You may find more political articles from me as November approaches.  I’m not affiliated with either party.  I lean left on quite a few issues, but am quite conservative on others.  However, the intricacies of the process and the probabilities of certain events intrigue me – and it’s likely that this will serve as the basis for most of my articles.]

Lisa Murkowski, Republican Senator from Alaska, was defeated in the GOP primary by Joe Miller, a candidate backed by Sarah Palin.  Following her defeat, Murkowski announced that she will be mounting a write-in candidate for her senate seat – much to the disappointment of Republican leaders.  Former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich went so far as top say that Murkowski is “fundamentally cheating.”

The reason for the concern is obvious.  Either Miller or Murkowski would be a cinch to beat Democrat Scott McAdams head-to-head.  However, it is possible that Murkowski’s write-in candidacy will pull enough votes away from Miller to allow McAdams to pull off a victory with around 35% of the vote.  That’s a worst case scenario, of course – a Rasmussen poll from September 19 showed McAdams trailing both Miller and Murkowski.  It’s a wild card, though – and a risk the Republicans would prefer to avoid.

But is Murkowski – and other candidates who lose primaries but remain in the race – actually cheating?  By losing the primary, they have certainly given up the right to be listed as the Republican or Democrat on the ballot.  But it’s worth noting that this is all the primaries decide – the person who will be officially endorsed by the party.  They don’t determine a candidate’s overall eligibility for the race.  Murkowski can’t be the endorsed Republican in the race, but she’s certainly entitled to remain in the race in any other fashion – the Republicans have no control over that.  The Republicans and Democrats should not be given special priority on the ballots, and certainly should not be allowed to rule other candidates ineligible.

Of course, the other question is whether or not Murkowski’s run is a good idea.  Probably not.  She may have been better served to wait until 2014 and lock horns with Mark Begich.  You may remember that Begich narrowly defeated the late Senator Ted Stevens at a point when Stevens was neck deep in corruption charges.  Clearly, this helped the Begich campaign, and he might not be able to win against Murkowski.  A Murkowski win against Begich would result in both of Alaska’s senators being Republicans – something that would likely curry favor with Republicans.  Her current write-in campaign has only served to anger them.  Murkowski was currently removed as the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as retribution for her campaign.

Across the country, in the state of Delaware, there is a situation that is very similar, yet very different.  Mike Castle, backed by the GOP establishment, was upset by Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell in the primary.  The only person happier than O’Donnell was her Democratic challenger, Chris Coons.  Coons was trailing Castle badly in the polls – but leading O’Donnell by a wide margin.  Overnight, this race turned from an almost certain Republican win to an almost certain Democratic win.

What could save the bacon for the Republicans?  Well, if Mike Castle were to run as a write-in candidate, he might be able to eke out a win and put the seat into GOP hands.  He’s mulling the possibility and has until the end of today to decide.  The wrinkle in this is that it’s going to be awfully hard to portray Castle as playing within the rules while at the same time painting Murkowski as a cheater.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kosmo
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 10:19:04

    Mike Castle has announced that he will not run as a write-in candidate for the Delaware Senate seat.


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