JUNEAU, Alaska — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Monday she feels that Republican leaders have turned their backs on her as she mounts a write-in bid to try to hold onto her seat.
Murkowski, who lost last month's GOP primary to tea party-supported Joe Miller, told The Associated Press that the focus in Washington seems to be more on "adding numbers to the team" and less on the quality of a candidate.
"We all know that Washington, D.C., is far too partisan right now," she said in an interview from Anchorage. "And I think when we allow the numbers to dominate over quality, I don't think that that helps us."
When Murkowski conceded the race Aug. 31, support within the Republican establishment began shifting to Miller, a self-described "constitutional conservative" who believes the federal government is on the brink of bankruptcy, spending must be reined in, and Alaska must be given greater control over its resources to help wean it off what he calls its over-dependency on the government.
Miller, endorsed by Sarah Palin during the primary race, has since garnered support from several of Murkowski's colleagues and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The committee has pledged at least $212,000 to help him win and has urged her to get on the bandwagon and back Miller.
Murkowski said she can't endorse Miller, who she says has espoused ideas outside the mainstream, or Scott McAdams, the Democratic challenger and small-town mayor she calls likable but inexperienced. She said she has heard from an overwhelming number of Alaskans that they also couldn't support either candidate — and she ultimately decided to run to give those Alaskans a choice.
Murkowski last week resigned her leadership position within the Republican conference. She said she didn't want her decision to stay in the race to cause dissension within the group. Murkowski maintains her committee positions, including that as the top Republican on the Senate Energy Committee.
GOP rules allow any Republican senator to seek her removal by forcing a secret ballot vote of the 41-member caucus, but that is unlikely to happen before the Nov. 2 general election, according to GOP staffers and other observers. There are only a few weeks left in the legislative session, with no action on major bills expected.
Murkowski plans to spend most of her time between now and the election in Alaska, locked in "a political fight that will determine the future of the state," spokesman Steve Wackowski said.
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