Lisa Murkowski has made no secret of her distaste for former President Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party. But she said there is “no way” she would caucus with the Senate Democrats and give Chuck Schumer an outright Senate majority.
The Alaska moderate also revealed that she did not vote for Trump in November, choosing to write in someone that she did not reveal. But she still considers herself a Republican, even after Trump took hold of the GOP.
“I can be very discouraged at times with things that go on in my own caucus, in my own party,” Murkowski told a trio of reporters on Friday. “But I have absolutely no desire to move over to the Democratic side of the aisle. I can’t be somebody that I’m not.”
Murkowski is up for reelection in 2022 and is one of the few true moderates left in the Senate, along with Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). She had previously stated that if the GOP remains the party of Trump, she doesn’t necessarily know how she fits in. She also called on Trump to resign.
She said after she lost her 2010 primary to a conservative firebrand she spoke to the Libertarian Party about running under their ticket. But her answer was, “Thank you, but no thank you. I don’t fly a flag of convenience.” She won the general election with an impressive write-in campaign.
“Now, some of the Republicans will say, you are not really one of us. Let’s define: What is the Republican Party nowadays? Now there’s an interview for you. But really, where are we, the Republican Party? Who really exemplifies the heart of the party right now?” She said on Friday. “In many ways, we are a party that is really struggling to identify.”
Murkowski said many people in her state did not like Trump’s style but backed his policies, particularly related to his support for energy exploration. Alaska has long been mired in an economic slowdown, and Murkowski said Biden’s suspension of energy exploration permits gives her a “lot of heartburn.”
In 2001, Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party after several months of a tied Senate, giving Democrats the majority. It appears no such switch is on the way this time around.
“As kind of disjointed as things may be on the Republican side, there’s no way you can talk me into going over to the other side, that’s not who I am,” Murkowski said.
Her remarks mean that the Senate is likely to stay locked in a 50-50 tie for two years pending some unpredictable retirement or event. Collins has also repeatedly ruled out switching caucuses and just won reelection to another six-year term as a Republican.
Still, it’s clear Murkowski has major reservations about the GOP’s direction with Trump expected to captivate a significant portion of the Republican Party for years to come. She said she didn’t vote for Trump because she wanted “to vote affirmatively for somebody. I don’t want to vote for somebody that I don’t feel confident and strong and good in. I don’t want to accept the lesser of two evils.”