Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, considered a swing vote for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court nomination, is running for reelection under a new election process in which traditional party primaries have been replaced with an all-comers runoff system that lets voters rank their preferred choices in the four-candidate general election, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The Post said Murkowski’s vote could indicate how much senators of either major party are willing to buck their party’s base and move to the center under similar kinds of election reforms.
Collins said Wednesday that she plans to vote to confirm Jackson to the Supreme Court.
"It is meant to incentivize elected leaders to look beyond what the party platform or the base of your party wants to really be able to have that freedom to say, I know the party says vote this way, but I'm looking at it globally, and for the state of Alaska I’m choosing to vote this way," Jason Grenn, a former state legislator who led the campaign to implement the new system, told the Post.
Murkowski has insisted that her upcoming election had no bearing on the decision. She’s the senator considered a Jackson swing vote who’s running this year.
"This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, so this is kind of important for the country," she said, the Post reported.
Bracing for a tough primary opponent when then-President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor (2009) and Elena Kagan (2010), Murkowski voted against both nominees.
Murkowski’s chief opponent this year is former state administrator Kelly Tshibaka, a Republican who has the support of former President Donald Trump.
Trump vowed to work to defeat Murkowski after she was 1 of 7 GOP senators who voted to convict him in his 2021 impeachment trial for allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol demonstrators.
Tshibaka has criticized Murkowski's decision to support Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is seen as hostile to Alaska's oil and mining industries, and the senator's 2012 vote for a federal district judge, who has blocked two key state projects.
"We all sit and watch … how’s Lisa Murkowski going to vote on this justice? How’s she going to vote on Deb Haaland? How’s she going to vote on whatever?" Tshibaka said on the "War Room" podcast Monday. "We don’t have a wishy-washy electorate in Alaska, and we know that, and we’re ready for a change."
Tshibaka has attacked Murkowski’s bipartisan record and her record on her votes for Democrat nominees.
Murkowski was 1 of only 3 Republican senators who supported Jackson’s confirmation as a circuit judge last year. She joined Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Speaking Thursday from the Senate floor, Graham said he would opposed Jackson’s nomination.
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