- Insider asked Lisa Murkowski about Sarah Palin’s Trump-endorsed congressional bid in Alaska.
- “Take a look at some of the others, because there’s some folks with real good qualifications,” she said.
- The duo have a fraught history, and Palin considered challenging Murkowski for Senate this year.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has little to say about her state’s former governor’s nascent bid for Alaska’s at-large congressional district.
“Why don’t you ask an original question?” she quipped to Insider, lamenting that “everybody” is asking her about Sarah Palin’s newly-announced campaign to succeed the late Republican Rep. Don Young, who held the seat from 1973 until his death this year, in an upcoming special election.
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and Tea Party leader who served as governor of Alaska from 2006 to 2009, said she was jumping into the race after having “watched the far left destroy the country.”
And she’s already received former President Donald Trump’s endorsement — a prized asset in Republican politics, and a sort of repaying of the favor for her endorsement of him ahead of the Iowa Caucuses during his 2016 presidential run.
“Well, have you looked at the 49 others?” Murkowski said when Insider asked her to weigh in on Palin’s campaign. “I have had so many questions in the past two days about one candidate — one individual out of 50 — who has advanced her name to fill our late Congressman’s seat.”
According to the Anchorage Daily News, a whopping 50 candidates have declared to run in the special election. It was initially 51, until one candidate withdrew. The list includes Republican State Sen. Josh Revak, former Republican State Sen. John Coghill, former Republican Interior Department official Tara Sweeney, former independent House candidate Al Gross, Alaska Native leader Emil Notti, and a self-described democratic socialist North Pole city council member named Santa Claus.
“I’m going to just challenge the press to take a look at some of the others, because there’s some folks with real good qualifications,” she added. “We have Native leaders, we have legislators who are currently serving and some who are formerly serving. We got some great businessmen and women.”
Alaska recently instituted a ranked choice voting system, with a “jungle primary” set to take place on June 11. The special election to succeed Young is the first time the state will be using the new system, and Murkowski indicated that she wouldn’t be endorsing any candidate until after that process takes place and the field is whittled down to just four candidates.
“We’re gonna have an opportunity to rank them, and we’ll have those top four,” said Murkowski. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me, in this kind of weird jungle primary, to be tipping the scales at this point.”
“This is your own kind of bubble,” she added. “I’m just telling you, you’re not in Alaska’s bubble, because Alaskans are talking about the others.”
Palin and Murkowski have a colorful history. In 2010, Palin backed a Tea Party-style Republican primary challenger against Murkowski who went on to defeat the senator. But Murkowski miraculously prevailed in the general election through a write-in campaign in which she ran an ad with a mock-up spelling bee instructing voters how to spell her name.
And just last year, Palin hinted that she may try to challenge Murkowski for the Senate seat she currently holds. “If God wants me to do it I will,” she said in August 2021.
But for now, Murkowski is stopping short of outright criticizing Palin.
“Correct,” she responded when a reporter asked if the Alaska senator didn’t want to say how she felt about Palin.
But she also hinted that Palin hasn’t been seen lately in her home state. Asked by another reporter about the last time Murkowski saw Palin in Alaska, she deadpanned.
“That is a really hard question, because it has been years,” she said.