Nobody said it wouldn't be semi-tough. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, denied the Republican nomination in her bid for reelection, is staying away from the Lower 48 this week -- specifically Capitol Hill -- as she turns her full attention to a long-shot write-in campaign
to save her seat.
Murkowski doesn't plan to attend any Senate sessions this week and "will decide on a case-by-case basis whether to return to Washington for particular votes or other business," her spokesman Michael Brumas told The Hill
newspaper. Murkowski isn't doing anything that unusual; lawmakers in tough reelection races often bypass Senate and House sessions in the closing weeks of campaigns to spend time in their home states.
Her absence means the Republican Senate hierarchy, which supports the GOP primary winner -- Sarah Palin-endorsed Joe Miller -- won't have to decide on Murkowski's status in the Senate conference or whether she should be punished for her audacious move against the nominated candidate.
Murkowski lost the primary by about 2,000 votes to Miller, a Fairbanks lawyer who is more conservative than the incumbent and had the backing of the Tea Party movement as well as Palin. Launching a write-in campaign against Miller and Democratic candidate Scott McAdams is not only a risky strategy, but also a difficult and costly organizational challenge. Most Republican leaders outside of Alaska have closed ranks behind Miller.
"I am bothered by anything that makes it less likely that we can elect a Republican, especially in a state where we had every hope of electing one," the Senate's second-ranking Republican, Sen. John Kyl of Arizona, told The Hill.