The Alaska Republican Party has voted to censure U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and will recruit a challenger to run against her in next year’s election.
Under party rules, a resolution of censure is just “an official rebuke and disapproval,” but a copy of Saturday’s resolution explicitly states that the party “will hereby recruit a Republican Party challenger to oppose and prohibit Senator Murkowski from being a candidate in any Republican primary to the extent legally permissible.”
“We’re looking for somebody else to be our U.S. Senator in 2022, and somebody who will be more in line with the Republican philosophy,” said Kris Warren, who wrote Saturday’s resolution and serves as the chairman of the Republican Party in an Anchorage House district.
He confirmed the accuracy of the resolution, which has not yet been shared by the state party.
Party chairman Glenn Clary did not respond to a Monday phone call seeking comment, and messages left at the party’s offices in Anchorage were not immediately returned.
A message left with Murkowski’s press secretary in Washington, D.C., was not immediately returned, but in February, Murkowski was asked about the district-level resolutions of censure.
“I stand my ground. If I had to take that vote again, I would vote to uphold my oath of office,” she said. “And, if the party is to censure me because they felt that I needed to support the party, they can make that statement, but I will make the statement again that my obligation is to support the Constitution that I have pledged to uphold, and I will do that, even if it means I have to oppose the direction of my state party.”
Alaska’s new election system, approved by voters last year, could dilute the impact of the resolution. Alaska no longer has a party-run system in which only one candidate advances to the November election.
Instead, four candidates will advance from the primary to the November general election, and the ballot could list multiple candidates from the same party.
Last week, former President Donald Trump said he will campaign in Alaska against Murkowski next year.
Saturday’s vote isn’t unique nationally. Similar votes have taken place nationwide against Republicans who supported Trump’s impeachment.
Warren said he submitted the resolution “right after the impeachment vote in the Senate.”
“The party has been upset with Sen. Murkowski for quite some time,” he said. “And we’ve actually considered a similar resolution in the past. But I think what’s happened here in the last few months is kind of kind of the last straw. We felt that we had to make a strong statement.”
The resolution cites unhappiness with Murkowski’s votes on the impeachment, votes in favor of abortion rights, a vote against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a vote against the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and votes supporting the confirmation of Deb Haaland as secretary of the Interior.
Because of those actions and others, the resolution says, “the Alaska Republican Party hereby censures Senator Lisa Murkowski for her votes and actions contrary to the Alaska Republican Party platform and the best interests of the state of Alaska.”
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, also voted for Haaland, whose final confirmation vote came Monday, after the resolution to censure Murkowski.
“You know, obviously, we like Sen. Sullivan a whole lot more than we like Sen. Murkowski. But you know, we have a few issues with him, too, but nothing so serious,” Warren said.