AJOC EDITORIAL: McConnell, GOP should have listened to Murkowski

  • The GOP didn’t take Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s advice, and now it is paying the price. (Photo/Susan Walsh/AP)

The only conclusion that can be drawn from watching D.C. Republicans vomit all over themselves in their pathetic efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare is that they were just as surprised as Democrats when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

After spending the past seven years campaigning and fundraising on promises to scrap the widely unpopular law — and being rewarded with total control of all three branches of government — the GOP has found out what it’s like to be the dog that catches the car.

The destructive fallout from Obamacare isn’t the only thing that can be traced back to 2010. Just as the law laid the foundation for the Democrats’ decimation from the local to the national level over the next two midterm cycles, another event that year set the stage for the Republicans’ embarrassing self-inflicted defeat this past week in Congress.

After Joe Miller’s stunning upset of Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Republican primary, she decided to run as a write-in candidate and eventually triumphed to seal her status in the state’s political history alongside Rep. Don Young and the late Sen. Ted Stevens as virtually untouchable.

Before refusing to support the Republican nominee, Murkowski was one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s favored lieutenants in his so-called “kitchen cabinet.”

Once she decided to go it alone without the party’s support, McConnell was forced to remove her from that inner circle status, although he allowed her to keep her committee seniority in a move that has paid dividends since the GOP took over the Senate in 2014 and landed her the chairmanship of Energy and Natural Resources.

Now it is clear that McConnell would have benefitted from having Murkowski’s advice, not just on the flawed process on repealing and replacing Obamacare, but general best political practices.

When the GOP took over the Senate in 2014, helped by Sen. Dan Sullivan’s defeat of Mark Begich in Alaska, Murkowski tempered her literal chair-wielding enthusiasm with the best way forward.

“If Republicans fail to govern, if we say our responsibility is just to win the next cycle, we won’t win,” she said at Sullivan’s victory party. “We will not be in charge. We will not be setting the agenda. We will not be legislating.

“We have our chance now. This is our time and if the American public doesn’t see us doing the hard work, then we’re going to be shown the exit just as the Democrats have been this cycle.”

As the unbelievable news was sinking in this past November with Trump winning and the GOP holding the Senate, barely, Murkowski echoed her 2014 comments.

“This isn’t Christmas,” she said. “We still have to govern.”

She warned early on in the repeal-and-replace process that closed-door meetings would not produce a victory, and she was proven right yet again.

Murkowski’s bipartisanship and care to craft sound policy are so rare in D.C. that she probably qualifies for an Endangered Species Act listing.

The GOP could start listening to her for a change, or the entire party is going to be on a milk carton come 2018.

Andrew Jensen can be reached at andrew.jensen@alaskajournal.com.

Updated: 
07/19/2017 - 1:26pm

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