Friday, August 27, 2010

Lisa Murkowski Denies Offering To Buy Her Way Into The Alaska Libertarian Party For $1 Million, Scott Kohlhaas Echoes That Denial

To spike speculation about the possibility of Lisa Murkowski buying her way into the Alaska Libertarian Party and continuing her Senate campaign under libertarian auspices, both the Murkowski campaign and Libertarian Party Chairman Scott Kohlhaas cleared the record on August 27th, 2010.

This is NOT speculative; this is factual. Steve Wackowski, spokesman for the Murkowski campaign, told Amanda Coyne of Alaska Dispatch, "That's not true...No one on our team has talked with the Libertarian Party." And Scott Kohlhaas also said "absolutely not". He firmly denies that anyone from the Murkowski campaign has approached the Libertarians either officially or unofficially. So this should put the rumor to bed once and for all.

But while the Murkowski campaign had repeatedly said such speculation was premature, the Alaska Libertarian Party had actually been fueling such speculation. On August 26th, KTUU Channel 2 ran a story headlined "Libertarians would welcome Murkowski Senate bid". They reported that the Alaska Libertarian Party said mutual friends of the party and the Murkowski campaign have been talking about the possibility of her being the party's candidate in the November general election. Even then, Kohlhaas said there has been no direct contact as of yet, and that the ultimate decision would hinge on current Libertarian nominee David Haase voluntarily dropping out. Haase has been quoted as saying he would be open to the idea if Murkowski would condemn the Federal Reserve.

But people skipped over the phrase "mutual friends", and decided that it meant that direct talks were occurring between the Murkowski campaign and the libertarians. It reached a fever pitch when Erick Erickson wrote, "I have confirmed through multiple sources that Lisa Murkowski has already approached the Alaska Libertarian Party. In exchange for putting her on the Libertarian ticket in November, Murkowski will hand the Libertarians a sizable chunk of her +$1 million war chest."

From there it went viral, both right and left. It gained enough traction to trigger a response from Joe Miller's campaign. A Miller staffer sent out a Tweet asking, “What’s the difference between selling out your party’s values and the world’s oldest profession?” While aimed at the libertarians, Lisa Murkowski thought it was directed towards her, and Joe Miller had to intervene to smooth the roiling waters.

The prospect of some of those Lisabucks would have to be attractive to the libertarians. Scott Kohlhaas himself is running for the House District 20 seat currently occupied by Representative-for-Life Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage), who's served there from 1985-1993 and again since 2003. There is no Republican in the race. Unlike his previous placeholder campaign in 2008, Kohlhaas intends to go all out. Imagine what just 50,000 Lisabucks could do for him -- it would instantly put him on a level playing field with Gruenberg.

But it would cost the Alaska Libertarian Party dearly in terms of credibility. Besides, other than the fact that Murkowski is pro-choice, there's hardly a libertarian bone in her body. While Murkowski opposes Obamacare, she still believes there is a role for government in health care. Libertarians generally believe there is NO ROLE for government in health care, or, for that matter, in education. So Murkowski would be a bad ideological fit. Update: On August 30th, the Alaska Libertarian Party announced that their executive committee, by a 5-0 vote, chose to reject Lisa Murkowski for their party.

The smart thing for Lisa Murkowski to do if the decision goes against her on September 8th would be to follow Bob Bennett's example and suck it up, otherwise, she risks sending the message that she considers her political career more important than Alaska's future. Alaska Voices columnist Kevin Clarkson, a respected Anchorage attorney, sums it up best in his latest column:

I will say the same thing now to Lisa that I will say to Joe Miller if need be later. If you end up losing, then just say thank you to all those people who voted for you in the primary, and then graciously bow out and throw your support behind the Republican candidate. Put the interests of your Party and the voice of the people who voted above your ego and your own selfish motivations.

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