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Murkowski left in place as top committee Republican

(Photo: AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)

By Paul Kane
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will remain the ranking Republican on the Senate energy committee despite her running as a write-in candidate for reelection against GOP leadership wishes.

In a 20-minute meeting Wednesday, Senate Republicans accepted Murkowski's resignation as vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. They selected Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.) to succeed her.

But they declined to remove her from the post on the energy committee. GOP leaders have voiced strong displeasure with Murkowski running as a write-in after she lost the Republican primary last month to her conservative challenger, Joe Miller, and they were expected to remove her from the energy committee post, as well as from the conference leadership.

"That's the only action we took," Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), conference chairman, told reporters, declining to explain why they left Murkowski in the top committee post.

(Murkowski did not attend the meeting. She was in Alaska campaigning.)

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as the panel is formally known, won't be holding any substantive hearings for the remainder of this year. Murkowski is an underdog in her write-in bid.

UPDATE: On Thursday, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) publicly criticized his fellow Republican senators for letting Murkowski keep her spot.

"It was bad enough to watch my colleagues work to support her in the primary after she had built a record of betraying conservatives principles," wrote DeMint. "But watching them back her after she left the party and launched a campaign against the Republican nominee was more than I could bear."

By Paul Kane  | September 22, 2010; 2:44 PM ET
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I know just how Murkowski must feel, the Republican party she loves has been taken over by a mindless rabble, fringe extremists like Palin, Beck and Limbaugh are calling the shots now, and probably will destroy GOP with their hate.

Posted by: squirebass | September 22, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Here we have just a little more proof that elected Republicans remain part of the problem in Washington today.

Politicians are politicians, almost regardless of Party.

Let's hope Joe Miller remembers this when he gets to DC and gives the Republican leadership a much needed pummeling.

Posted by: wmcmyers | September 22, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

RogueWave - Voters in AK will not be swayed by emotional propaganda preached by the TPE. Sarah Palin's influence in AK is rapidly diminishing since she resigned as Governor. McCain and other GOP leaders are biased towards supporting her, but when these so-called "disgruntled voters" are revealed for the special interests that they truly are, the electorate will decide their fate. Only 33% of registered voters participated in the primary election, so Joe Miller's victory wasn't a true representation of Alaska's will, just a fluke occurrence. Most Republicans took it for granted that Murkowski would defeat Miller handily. I have no doubt that supporters will rally behind Murkowski on Nov. 2nd. The GOP leadership would be well advised to postpone any further action against Murkowski because they too know Miller's primary win by less than 1% of votes cast was completely unexpected.

Credentials - You neglect to mention that although Murkowski was appointed by her father (which I myself initially had concerns about too), Murkowski defeated a former Mayor and two (2) time elected Governor Tony Knowles (DEM) in the proceeding US Senate election. Don't be surprised at all when she wins this write-in campaign! I'm sure it will be some time before GOP leaders publicly and openly forgive her for "stressing" the Republican Party, but I would argue that they know there are many more advantages to keeping Murkowski, than gaining Miller. Miller will be a puppet to Palin. Ultimately, though they want to embrace a unified Republican party, they still have many doubts and rightly so, because voters are just not convinced that Palin is of Presidential quality. As an Alaskan, I'm definitely not convinced Palin can perform at that level of politics!

Posted by: InformedAlaskan | September 22, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

What a thought, Murkowski wins on a write in campaign. What would the GOP do if that happened? Humble pie, served with revenge topping is hard for people like McCain, McConnell, Kyl, Sessions, Graham, Cornyn, to swallow. While it would be better for everyone if the Democrats won the seat, having Murkowski win might be good enough. She is probably just pissed enough now to tell the party establishment where their train left the tracks and that she is not going to help them pick it up. Go, Lisa Murkowski.

Posted by: ronjeske | September 22, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

There is no such thing as a 'principled conservative.'

Posted by: CRinVegas | September 22, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Another glaring example of arrogant entitlement and why a Tea Party has risen, composed primarily of disgruntled voters, desiring to throw incumbants of both parties out of Washington. Adios.

Posted by: RogueWave | September 22, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

See, Republicans, this is an example of why we don't like you much either. You better shape the hell up.

Posted by: SukieTawdry | September 22, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

November can't come soon enough!

Posted by: Common_Cents1 | September 22, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Her father was one of the most corrupt energy related politicos going so I'm sure this will be used to grease a position in both the natural gas pipeline and future mineral extraction. That is HER connection to Alaska.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld1 | September 22, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Unbelieveable. . . The GOP is leadership is so out of touch, it's going to be a miracle if even the election of principled conservatives this term can turn things around.

Not only is this a move that lacks principle, but it is a move of weakness. Murkowski, after being appointed to Daddy's seat, has lost the Republican primary. She should be expelled from the party caucus for running as an Independent-- stripping her of her seniority should have been a no-brainer.

If Murkowski somehow wins (quite unlikely) and is given back her status in the GOP, I predict and hope, there will be an open war on the GOP's "leadership"

Posted by: credentials | September 22, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans are proud people. If by any chance, Murkowski wins the election, they will not accept her in the party.

Or will they?

Posted by: kishorgala | September 22, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Or maybe its because they hope she wins so they don't have to deal with Joe Miller???

Posted by: AndyR3 | September 22, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

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