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Lisa Murkowski vs. Sarah Palin, and the search for other political family feuds

By Felicia Sonmez

Back when former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) made her surprise endorsement of Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-Alaska) little-known primary opponent in June, both Palin and Murkowski denied that there was any bad blood between them.

What a difference a primary makes.

In a robocall recorded last weekend for Murkowski's opponent, attorney Joe Miller (R), Palin took direct aim at Murkowski.

Murkowski "has voted with the Democrats more than any Republican up for re-election this year," Palin said in the call. "She waffled on the repeal of Obamacare, co-sponsored cap-and-trade and voted for TARP."

And as returns began rolling in Tuesday night, Murkowski took a shot at Palin in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News.

"I think she's out for her own self-interest," Murkowski said, adding: "I don't think she's out for Alaska's interest."

The rivalry between Palin and Murkowski can be traced back nearly a decade.

In 2002, Palin - then mayor of Wasilla -- was in the running to serve as lieutenant governor to then-gubernatorial hopeful Frank Murkowski (R), Murkowski's father. Palin eventually lost narrowly to state Sen. Loren Leman (R).

When Frank Murkowski was elected governor, Palin was among the 26 candidates on his "short list" of those being considered to replace him in the Senate. But Frank Murkowski ultimately appointed his daughter, Lisa, to the seat in December 2002. Frank Murkowski later tapped Palin for a seat on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

When Lisa Murkowski ran for election in 2004, Palin considered running against her but decided against it, opting instead to back Murkowski's primary challenger, Mike Miller (R). (Murkowski went on to beat Miller 58 percent to 37 percent.)

Then, in 2006, Palin struck again, defeating Frank Murkowski in a contentious gubernatorial primary. Palin went on to win the governorship over former Gov. Tony Knowles (D).

Three years later, when Palin resigned as governor in 2009, Lisa Murkowski came out with a blistering statement saying that she was disappointed that Palin had chosen to "abandon the state and her constituents." Lisa Murkowski has also criticized Palin since then, most notably for her remarks on "death panels" during the debate over the national health care overhaul.

In her June statement endorsing Miller, Palin wrote that "though the media has tried to portray some sort of feud or bad blood between Lisa and myself, such is not the case."

Still, there's no denying that if Miller emerges victorious -- and he appears likely to do so -- it will mark the second time that Palin has worked to oust a Murkowski in a primary.

The Post's Jason Horowitz explores the Palin-Murkowski dynamic in further depth today, but we'd also like to ask Fixistas to weigh in with your thoughts on political feuds on the whole. What are some of the longstanding political rivalries out there? Are there any particularly nasty ones in your state? Any that have carried over into the 2010 campaign season?

The comments section awaits!

By Felicia Sonmez  | August 25, 2010; 3:03 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Afternoon Fix: Murkowski awaits defeat, Shumlin claims victory, and Buck leads by nine

 
 
 
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