Sarah Palin and the Murkowski family have a long history of political rivalry in Alaska.
Frank Murkowski was the state’s long-standing senator until he decided to run for governor in 2002. Palin, who that year failed in her bid to be the Republican’s vice-gubernatorial candidate, campaigned around the state for Murkowski. After his election, Palin was rumored to be on the short list of likely appointees to Murkowski’s resigned senate seat, an appointment he would now make since Alaskan law allows the governor to fill senate seats.
But Palin was passed over and Murkowski instead settled for his daughter, a state representative, Lisa Murkowski. It was been reported that Palin resented this act. Palin had campaigned for Frank Murkowski, but in an act of nepotism he rewarded his daughter and instead gave Palin the job of heading the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Palin accepted that position, but in 2006 ran for governor and challenged Murkowski in a Republican primary. Palin won the intra-party battle and later went on to become Alaska’s first female and youngest governor. If Palin held a grudge against Murkowski for failing to promote her political career to the senate, she had effectively gotten back by dethroning him.
Palin’s individual climb to governorship did not endear her to the Murkowski family. It is unorthodox to launch primary challenges against the party’s governor, and even more so when the challenger personally campaigned for the governor four years prior.
Lisa Murkowski was elected on her own terms in 2004, but this year she faced a Tea Party challenger. Palin, who otherwise has been endorsing Republican women as part of her “Mama Grizzles’, endorsed the primary challenger who went on to defeat Murkowski in a very close race. Palin initially supported Murkowski prior to the primary challenger, and even donated to her reelection fund, but as soon as Murkowski lost the primary Palin has been Tweeting that Murkowski should not go ahead with her independent campaign.
“My advice for Lisa is the same for anyone who sees a grizzly in the woods. DON’T RUN,” wrote Palin in one Tweet. And in another: “Primary voters spoke. Listen to the people, respect their will; w/a 40-pt incumbent lead & $2.8million war cheast, voters chose Joe instead.”
Many in Alaska and in the press have interrupted Palin’s initial endorsement of Murkowski as insincere. Palin only supported Murkowski when she was dismissing rumors that she intended to run for senator and her endorsement of Murkowski was simply a matter of saying that she, Palin, did not seek the Senate and supported by the current Republican senator. But as soon as Murkowski was challenged, Palin endorsed Joe Miller writing on Twitter that “competition’s good”. And that her opposition to Murkowski is due to continuing resentment of Palin’s overlooked status back in 2002 and Murkowski’s seemingly undeserved road to the Senate.
Recently, Palin told Iowa Republicans that Murkowski’s efforts to run as an independent would be “futile”. Murkowski announced yesterday that she is indeed committed to running as a write-in candidate and in her speech to gathered supporters she took a veiled aim at the woman who has been dismissing her and urging her to cut short her political career. Murkowski said her campaign was necessary because Alaska needed “one Republican woman who won’t quit on Alaska.” It was a clear dig at Palin who prematurely resigned as governor more than a year before her term expired.
No word from Palin yet in this Palin-Murkowski feud.