Groan: Senate Republicans Allow Murkowski to Maintain Seniority on Energy Committee

Guy Benson
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Posted: Sep 22, 2010 5:46 PM
It seems I spoke too soon this morning when listing off reasons why conservatives shouldn't sweat Lisa Murkowski's desperation write-in Senate bid in Alaska.  The Cliffs Notes version: She's getting trounced in the polls (which is still true), and Senate Republicans were planning to strip her of her of her seniority on a prestigious and influential committee as punishment for her political insubordination.  Those reports, it turns out, were wrong:

Senate Republicans defied expectations and did not act Thursday to remove Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) from her top Republican role on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“We had a discussion in our conference about other matters including that but decided that we would take no other action today,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee told reporters afterward. “We wanted to focus our attention on Senator Barrasso, his new position, that’s what we did.”

Alexander declined to say why the Republicans did not remove Murkowski from her committee leadership position.

“Well because we didn’t,” Alexander said. He later added, “I think there’s some things that we discuss within the conference. We’ve done what we need to do and we decided not to do more today.”

When asked whether Republicans would convene on a later date to vote on stripping Murkowski of her committee leadership position, Alexander said, “Well there’s no other meeting of the conference scheduled right now.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch chimes in, calling the conference's decision "a matter of good taste":

“We all respect the system, and she still is a Republican senator,’’ said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah.) after the closed party caucus. “It’s just a matter of good taste. We decided to keep the status quo as long as she’s a senator.’’

I actually sympathize with that logic to a point, but then why all the bluster about how Republicans were champing at the bit to make an example of Murk?  Remember these kinds of statements from yesterday?

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman, John Cornyn, R-Texas, told CNN this is, "the appropriate thing to do. When you chose not to accept the judgment of the primary voters and run as a write in... it has consequences."

Another Republican came out of the Senate GOP lunch and told CNN it was clear Murkowski has virtually no support among her colleagues anymore. That senator spoke on condition of anonymity, in order to speak freely about a private meeting.


Allahpundit smells something fishy:

If Murkowski somehow let them know that she’d vote Democratic in the lame-duck if they stripped her of Energy seniority — I’m not saying she did, but if — then the caucus should reveal that to the world so that fencesitting Republicans in Alaska know exactly what kind of snake they’re dealing with here. It’s amazing to me that they were promising to boot her yesterday and, 24 hours later, suddenly they’ve reversed themselves
 and don’t want to talk about it. Spill it.
Agreed: If Murkowski is playing games and leveling threats about potential lame- duck session votes (she's not expected to be in Washington too often before the election), Alaskans deserve to know about it---especially since she's running self-righteous ads crowing about her "principles."


UPDATE: Alexander and Hatch aren't the only Republicans sounding a bit evasive on this subject:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who has been sharply critical of Murkowski, said before the vote that he expected the conference to remove her from her committee post by an “overwhelming margin,” saying there was a “principle involved.”

After the vote, DeMint refused to comment.

“I’m not going to comment on that right now,” DeMint said.