Murkowski insists ‘I’m in the right place,’ despite rift with Trump

a woman on an airstrip
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, at the Juneau airport in 2023. (Mikko Wilson/KTOO)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski reiterated her opposition to former president Donald Trump on Thursday, but suggested that she intends to remain a Republican.

“Where the party goes, I don’t know. I know what I am,” she told reporters in Anchorage, after reminding them that she’s been a Republican since she first registered to vote. “And I know where I fit within my conference.”

Murkowski is an active participant in the Senate Republican Conference, the 49-member minority.

The Senate has three independents who organize with the Democrats, she noted.

“I will just point out to you that all three of those are not sitting in the middle of the aisle. There’s no independent corner. You still have to determine who you caucus with,” she said. “And as I have expressed frustration with the Republican Party, I look between the two choices that I have to caucus with in the United States Senate, and I’m in the right place.”

Murkowski is one of the only Republican senators willing to openly criticize Trump — and for people outside the MAGA wing, she’s a ray of hope that the party isn’t entirely in his thrall. Murkowski’s party affiliation has been in question since she spoke to a CNN reporter last month and did not clearly reject his suggestion that she might become an independent. But she said nothing Thursday to suggest she’s planning such a move.

The senator on Thursday called Trump flawed “to his core” and indicated he lacks the character to be president.

“We need to know that whoever is serving us as our president serves the country (and) respects the Constitution. And who does it … with no self-interest — country first,” she said. “We need to believe that that is the case.”

Murkowski said she may not vote for President Biden, either. She doesn’t like his policies, particularly on energy. She also said she has concerns about his age. 

“I’m not going to say that he can no longer serve as president, but I do know that the demands of this job, the job of president, are extraordinarily difficult,” she said.

Murkowski’s moderate positions and refusal to line up behind Trump have been a source of friction between her and the state GOP. The party is holding its state convention in Anchorage this month. Murkowski said she doesn’t plan to participate.

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

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