Lisa Murkowski Says She Won’t Vote for Trump, Signals Leaving Republican Party

Lisa Murkowski Says She Won’t Vote for Trump, Signals Leaving Republican Party

Senator Lisa Murkowski expressed strong opposition to former President Donald Trump on Sunday, stating unequivocally that she would not vote for him and expressing her dissatisfaction with her alignment within the Republican Party.

Murkowski (R-Alaska) shared with CNN her desire for a Republican nominee she could support, emphasizing her inability to support Trump. "I wish that as Republicans, we had … a nominee that I could get behind,” Murkowski stated. “I certainly can’t get behind Donald Trump.”

Earlier in the month, just days before dropping out due to a lackluster performance on Super Tuesday, former Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley received a last-ditch endorsement from Murkowski, who is 66.

Murkowski has a history of diverging from party consensus, notably being among the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in 2021.

Out of those seven, only four remain in the Senate, with Murkowski being the sole senator among them to win reelection.

Murkowski has openly criticized Trump, 77, especially for his characterization of Jan. 6 Capitol riot participants as “hostages,” underscoring the indefensibility of the attack aimed at halting the certification of the election. “What happened on January 6 was … an effort by people who stormed the building in an effort to stop an election certification of an election. It can’t be defended,” Murkowski remarked.

Additionally, Murkowski supports abortion rights and opposed the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018.

Despite facing intense primary challenges, including opposition from Trump-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka in 2022 and a write-in campaign in 2010 after losing the primary to Joe Miller, Murkowski has stayed within the Republican Party. However, she hints at uncertainty about her future in the GOP.

Describing herself as "very independent-minded," Murkowski expressed regret over the party's direction under Trump's influence. "Oh, I think I’m very independent-minded,” she told CNN. “I just regret that our party is seemingly becoming a party of Donald Trump.”

Murkowski, who first joined the Senate in 2002 after being appointed by her father, former Governor Frank Murkowski, has gradually distanced herself from party lines over her tenure.

Despite early challenges, such as the rise of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential candidate in 2008, which tested her political relationships within Alaska, Murkowski has maintained a moderate Republican stance, second only to Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) in moderation, according to GovTrack.

Serving under Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) since 2007, Murkowski benefited from McConnell's protection of moderates within the GOP. McConnell even supported Murkowski over Trump's preferred candidate, Tshibaka, a stance indicative of McConnell's broader defense of moderate Republicans. McConnell, however, plans to relinquish his leadership role at the end of the year.

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