Murkowski’s view from the vanishing center

newspaper ad featuring women's faces.
The Washington Post gave Sen. Murkowski a top billing in its ads for the Global Women’s Summit, which it sponsors. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Now that Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., are leaving the U.S. Senate, Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski could be one of the few remaining moderates.

She said each of their announced retirements made her feel sick.

“I am very worried that what we are seeing is good people who have gotten discouraged because the process can be so — just awful,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski spoke Tuesday at a Global Women’s Summit sponsored by the Washington Post, where organizers billed her as “the real maverick.” The on-stage interview was a chance for her to expound on her way of legislating and the vanishing political center.

Murkowski said she forms partnerships with lawmakers who aren’t on the extreme ends of the partisan spectrum and who are willing to work on beneficial bills.

“I think we’ve been able to demonstrate this in very specific measures, whether it was the infrastructure bill, whether it was the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. I mean, there are good places where we can land with legislation that again are going to be enduring because they’re not entirely partisan,” she said.

But Murkowski said she fears she’ll be left with few colleagues who are willing to craft compromise legislation and who have the backbone to stand up to their party to support it.

“And if the good people leave — when I say good people, the people that are willing to work in the middle — we know what we’re going to be left with,” she said. “It will be those that will be on the extremes of either side, and that doesn’t benefit our country.”

Murkowski has served in the Senate since 2002 and was re-elected last year. She was among seven Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump following the assault on the Capitol. She said she definitely won’t support Trump’s campaign next year, but she doesn’t think she can support the re-election of President Joe Biden, either.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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