Our view: For the Senate, Lisa Murkowski
October 25, 2010
The last thing we need, as Alaskans or Americans, is more extreme partisanship in Washington, D.C. As the country suffers dire problems in need of solutions, finger-pointing, divisive rhetoric and political posturing have been elevated into a corrosive art form that threatens to paralyze the government.
The idea seems to be that anyone who sees the world differently from you, or favors a different approach to our problems, should not be talked to or negotiated with. Instead they must be vanquished, defeated and shut out. In that political world, every issue is seen as right or left, black or white, good or evil.
This is wrong, and there is good reason to believe if we allow it to persist, we all will suffer. Most of us want leadership that can rise above this simplistic view. We want leaders who can work across party lines to understand the problems we face and craft workable solutions. Some call this naive, but it’s not. Finding common ground and working together is the only way we can succeed in the long run.
In the present race for Alaska’s U.S. senator, we believe the person most committed to and best able to advance such an approach is the eight-year incumbent, Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
We have not agreed with Sen. Murkowski on every issue or supported her on every vote. Far from it. She’s not a perfect legislator. At times, she has had lapses in judgment, and we’ve taken her to task for them. She has tried too hard recently to placate her party’s hard right, though without success.
After 12 years in elected office, she is, by definition, a politician; for some voters that alone may be reason enough to vote for one of her opponents.
Yet over a long career of public service she has conducted herself honorably, diligently and with the goal of doing what’s best for Alaska and the country. Her eight years in the Senate benefit Alaskans in an institution where seniority is key. Like former Sen. Ted Stevens, she was originally appointed to the office, but she has run and won on her own record. She has modeled her politics on those of Stevens, ever the Republican but a moderate prepared to work with Democrats to help Alaska and do the right thing for the country.
She’s paid a price for her moderation. Campaign opponents on the right have attacked her for a lack of ideological “purity.” For example, she was one of the few Republicans to acknowledge that some health care reform was needed. She had the audacity to suggest to her more rigid colleagues that it was not enough to just blast health care reform — they needed to offer concrete alternatives that improved access and stemmed the endlessly increasing costs. Hers was a reasonable position that helps lay the foundation for better solutions going forward. For it, she has been pilloried by both sides.
Her unwillingness to adopt the shortsighted, scorched-earth approach of one wing of her party cost her the primary election. Yet that defeat — and the response of moderate Alaskans to it — has given Murkowski a golden opportunity to serve her constituents as neither of her rivals could.
She took the first step to seize the moment when she decided to run as a write-in Republican. That was not the easy choice for her.
Abandoned by her party leaders and even by some former allies in Alaska, scorned by tea-party activists, Murkowski owes them nothing. She is running where she truly lives — near the political center — and where she has rediscovered that most Alaskans and Americans live. The center is Murkowski’s natural habitat, where she first built a reputation as an honest, independent state lawmaker more than a decade ago.
Her bold bid to win as a write-in has liberated her — and she knows it.
She spoke last week of the chance to go back to Washington with a sense of freedom — still a Republican, but not beholden to her party leadership. She’ll be in a stronger negotiating position for Alaska. She’ll have more latitude to join hands with — or even lead — moderates in both parties who want to solve the nation’s problems, not stroke their ideologies.
As we have seen throughout this election, it’s easy to be against things, especially when you haven’t actually had to try to find solutions. Her Republican opponent, Joe Miller, claims he’ll eliminate the national debt and change the structure of the government. It is as if he doesn’t understand that he will be one of 100, with no prospect of real success without compromise and working across party lines. He is selling a mirage, in which people who think differently don’t exist or don’t matter. It is a prescription for more gridlock and partisan warfare.
Her Democratic opponent, Scott McAdams, is articulate and reasonable. He has grown in this campaign from electoral cannon fodder to credible candidate. Alaskans will see more of him on the political stage, and that’s good. But this is not his time. A half-dozen years as a small-town school board member and mayor in a weak-mayor system is too thin a resume for the challenges of the U.S. Senate in 2010.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski has the right combination of character, experience and ability to work to solve real problems and advance the interests of Alaska — and an opportunity born of defeat to win as an independent, tempered and strong voice for the majority of Alaskans. We urge you to write in her name on your ballot. And don’t forget to blacken the bubble.
BOTTOM LINE: Lisa Murkowski is the best choice for U.S. Senate.
Copyright © Sun Oct 24 2010 11:09:24 GMT-0800 (AKDT)1900 The Anchorage Daily News (www.adn.com)