In speech to Alaska Legislature, Murkowski shows she’s outside Trump’s grip on GOP

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski greets Rep. CJ McCormick, D-Bethel, after her 2024 address to the Alaska Legislature. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

While former President Donald Trump continues to tighten his hold on the Republican party, Sen. Lisa Murkowski made clear in her annual speech to the Alaska Legislature that she’s immune to that force field.

She urged state legislators to put Alaska before party.

“As the elections approach, there’s going to be pressure to show whether you’re with the Republicans or with the Democrats, with probably very little in between,” she said. “So let’s show the country that sure we’ve got our differences — we will always have our policy differences — but we can figure out ways to work through them.”

Murkowski’s moderation aggravates the Alaska Republican Party. The party has censured her, and Trump endorsed her right-wing opponent in the 2022 election. But for her annual address to the Legislature, Murkowski didn’t budge from the center.

Murkowski offered high praise for Congresswoman Mary Peltola, even though Peltola is a Democrat and she’s running for re-election this year. Murkowski credited her (and Sen. Dan Sullivan) with helping to close a loophole that allowed Russian seafood into the American market.

“And Mary helped push that with the administration,” Murkowski said. “She’s also working tirelessly to educate her House colleagues about issues like fisheries and resources in Alaska. She may be one of 435, but she stands out. And she too is making a difference for Alaska.”

Murkowski also reiterated her disappointment that Senate Republicans sank a border security measure last week, as Trump urged them to do. And she emphasized her support for aid to Ukraine and other allies – an issue that divides congressional Republicans.

Murkowski called both President Biden and Trump  “deeply flawed candidates.” She told reporters after the speech that she hopes Nikki Haley can defy the odds to become the Republican nominee for president.

Sen. Dan Sullivan is scheduled to make his address to the Legislature next Wednesday.

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

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