With GOP wins, Murkowski eyes ANWR

Lisa Murkowski celebrates on Election Night. Photo by Liz Ruskin, APRN.
Lisa Murkowski celebrates on Election Night. Photo by Liz Ruskin, APRN.

Alaska’s congressional incumbents easily held their seats. With most of the vote counted, Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was far ahead of Libertarian Joe Miller, and Independent Margaret Stock was in third place. In the U.S. House race, Democrat Steve Lindbeck trailed Republican Congressman Don Young by a substantial margin.

Murkowski told reporters that with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, the odds have improved for her Alaska agenda. She says one of her first efforts will be a push to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, a goal that has eluded Alaska’s congressional delegation for decades. She spoke of finally getting a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge to help King Cove. And then she checked herself.

“This is not Christmas,” she said. “This is governing and governing is hard work.”

She says Republicans in the Senate will still need to work with the Democrats in Congress.

“And we will. I will,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that you run (Democrats) over. It means you still work to gain that consensus. And we’ll need that with ANWR. We’ll need that with other issues that always have been complicated in Alaska.”

Murkowski never supported Trump, and after the videotape emerged of him speaking aggressively about women, she called for Trump to step aside. On election night, Murkowski said she’d have no problem working with him. She said she didn’t know if Trump would extract a price, but she says victory tends to soften any hard feelings.

“If there was somebody that was harboring ill-will toward someone and you win, there’s no reason to hold grudges,” she said.

With Republicans in control of the Senate, Murkowski retains her chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee for up to four more years.


Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.

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