Recently, former President Donald Trump let it be known that he wasn’t going to sit idly by while the Republican establishment used him to raise money for candidates he doesn’t support. This includes a slate of incumbents that have tried to stake themselves out as moderates over the years.
The starkest example of that is Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is up for re-election in 2022. She represents a red state where fossil fuels make up a huge percentage of the economy and most of the residents just want to be left alone. Instead of reflecting the attitudes of her state, Murkowski has time and again opposed Republican priorities, while crossing the aisle to offer aid and comfort to Democrats.
Most recently, she voted to confirm Biden’s choice for head of the Department of Energy, despite that person holding views that directly hurt Alaskans. In regards to the recent COVID “relief” bill, Murkowski also couldn’t be counted on to even vote on an amendment that would tie school funding to reopening. We can go back further as well, noting that she voted against Brett Kavanaugh and against bringing Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the floor (though she eventually voted to confirm).
In other words, Murkowski isn’t Susan Collins. She doesn’t have to play this ridiculous role to get re-elected in a blue state, and there’s no excuse for her to not face a primary challenge, given her inconsistency in upholding basic Republican priorities.
Unfortunately, Rick Scott, who heads the NRSC, is already bending the knee and going to battle with Trump over this issue.
NRSC Chairman Rick Scott on Trump vowing to come after Sen. Murkowski: “the bylaws of the NRSC say I support all the incumbents and I’m going to be very aggressive in supporting the incumbents”
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) March 9, 2021
This is weakness personified. Who cares what the bylaws say? Seek to change the bylaws if they pose a barrier. We aren’t talking about some sacrosanct, constitutional law. I’ll also note that Rep. Liz Cheney did not honor such tradition when she tried to primary incumbent Rep. Thomas Massie. If Never Trumpers can play for keeps, why can’t Rick Scott?
I’m of the view that what a Republican does in office should dictate the level of support they receive when it’s time to run for re-election. Simply having an ‘R’ next to one’s name is not enough, and if a Republican has operated as Murkowski has — in a deep red state, mind you — then they deserve to face a real primary challenge without intervention from the establishment.
In the end, this is a battle Trump will win. He’s going to be able to muster far more money, and far, far more unearned media time than Scott and the NRSC can compete with. Murkowski will hopefully be replaced with a Republican that better represents the wants of Alaskans, and the Republican Party as a whole.