Tales from the Trail

How did Murkowski win? Go figure

RTR2FWVX_Comp-150x150Lisa Murkowski is the first to win a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate in more than half a century. But that’s not the important part.

The Alaska Republican is also a moderate who sounds determined to defy the hardline GOP  ‘defeat Obama’ drumbeat in Congress and the uncompromising politics of the Tea Party.

Why? Because, she says, that’s what the general election voters who enabled her to triumph over the Tea Party – and her home-state nemesis Sarah Palin – want her to do.

“This was not a Republican campaign. This was Democrats and Republicans and independents all coming together,” Murkowski says in an interview with NBC’s Today show.
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“What they said was: ‘We want the consensus-building that I bring to the table. We don’t want governance based on anger or fear. We want governance that comes about when people reach across the table.”

Her Palin-backed Tea Party opponent, Joe Miller, has not yet conceded the race. But Alaska election authorities are widely expected to certify Murkowski’s win later this month.

Murkowski rates write-in campaign courageous or crazy

“Political courage or just plain crazy.”

That’s the explanation Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski gives for why, against her party’s wishes, she waged a write-in campaign to hang on to her U.S. Senate seat.lisa

The ballots are still being counted but Murkowski looks set to make history as the first senator to be elected in a write-in campaign since Strom Thurmond in 1954.

“This is a whole new world for me and a whole new world for my colleagues,” Murkowski said in an interview with Katie Couric on CBS on Monday.

Campaign’s over, so start campaigning

OBAMA/Finally get some shut-eye after Tuesday’s election? Well, rise and shine. 2012 is just around the corner and the presidential campaign is already getting under way.

Folks at the White House may be asking themselves if the humbled, chastened President Barack Obama will face a primary challenge from the Left.

That bit of speculation got churning after newly unemployed Senate Democrat Russ Feingold conceded defeat with the decidedly unchastened message: “It’s on to the next fight. It’s on to the next battle. It’s on to 2012. And it is on to our next adventure — forward!” FEINGOLD

When politics feels like a bad flight

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He sounded like someone bombarded by too many election ads.

“I call it the perfect storm of bad manners,” Steven Slater told CNN’s Larry King. “I was angry at all of it.”

The former JetBlue flight attendant, who famously quit his job by jumping down an emergency chute, beer in hand, was talking about his life in the U.S. airline industry — not politics.

But his words could just as easily have described what some people think about the tone of the 2010 midterm election campaign – like audience members who booed Republican California gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman for refusing to stop TV ads attacking her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown. 
    
USA/This election year, negative ads can be mild compared with campaign events on the ground.
    
Last week, Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller’s private security guard handcuffed a journalist for asking questions the candidate didn’t want to answer. This week, video footage from Kentucky shows a woman protester from MoveOn.org being dragged to the ground and stepped on by supporters of Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul. 
    
Among voters, the anger appears aimed mainly at Democrats, who the Cook Political Report’s pre-election House outlook now predicts will lose 48 to 60 seats, with higher losses possible.
    
Republican officials are already preparing for an invasion of fresh new GOP House members, some of them Tea Party candidates who say they want nothing to do with business as usual in Washington. USA-POLITICS

Media relations eclipse rhetoric as bare-knuckle politics

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The campaign rhetoric couldn’t be harsher, what with the talk about who’s a whore and who’s a nut job and who cheated on who’s ex-wife. (Remember when ‘who’ was just the guy on first?)

But nowadays the real bare-knuckle politics appears to be between the candidates and the news media.

Take the Senate campaign in Alaska. Tea Party Republican Joe Miller won’t talk to the press about his past as a public official. And when a journalist wouldn’t stop asking about it over the weekend, Miller’s private security team intervened.

Leaked e-mail fuels Palin for president speculation

A leaked e-mail is providing more grist for speculation that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is seriously pondering a run for president in 2012.

USA/In the e-mail, Palin’s husband, Todd Palin, complained to Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller and Tim Crawford, treasurer for Palin’s SarahPAC political organization, after Miller declined to endorse the possibility of a Palin presidential candidacy.

Sarah Palin had endorsed Miller in his successful Senate Republican nomination fight against incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, and it is clear from the e-mail that Todd Palin expected some loyalty in return.

Florida, Arizona contestants set, still waiting on Alaska…

The contestants are set in Florida’s three-way race for the U.S. Senate and John McCain holds on to pursue a fifth term. USA/PALIN

But most of the chatter this morning is about the Alaska surprise where Joe Miller, an underdog candidate backed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, edged into the lead over incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski. It may take a week or more to determine the winner of the primary as rural and absentee votes are tallied. 

How Miller fares will be seen as a test of Palin’s clout in the Republican Party. She has backed a number of candidates in this primary season and her results are mixed.