Murkowski Update: There Was A Vote

Posted: Sep 22, 2010 6:52 PM
A short while ago, I spoke with a senior GOP aide who helped shed some light on what happened behind closed doors this afternoon:

(1) Sen. Barrasso's elevation to conference leadership was unanimous and did not require a vote.

(2) There *was* a vote on Murkowski's Energy Committee status, although her name didn't appear on the ballot, and the question was couched in procedural language.  The issue her colleagues were asked to consider was phrased as a referendum on whether or not Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina should assume the role of ranking member on the committee.  If the motion had carried, it would have served as the de facto demotion of Murkowski that many Republicans were expecting prior to the meeting.

(3) The vote did not pass, and the final tally was not announced.  Leadership reportedly did not argue in favor of Murkowski retaining her seniority, and left the question entirely up to the conference at large.

The source tells me that the prevailing--but not entirely unified--sense in the room was that: (a) Murkowski is widely expected to lose in November, (b) someone else (likely Burr) will fill this position when the new Congress convenes in January, and (c) it wasn't worth replacing Murkowski (and in the process both bucking tradition and unnecessarily antagonizing her) for what amounts to a little more than a week of Energy Committee business.

The aide said that the conference's ultimate and more meaningful disavowal of Murkowski is evidenced by its lock-step support for Joe Miller--both rhetorically and financially.  He said there was absolutely no indication whatsoever that the conference reached its decision based on any implicit or explicit threat that Murkowski could wreak havoc in a lame-duck Congressional session by siding with Democrats on key votes.  He said it was doubtful any members had even heard from Murkowski since the official announcement of her write-in candidacy.