A week after conceding the tight GOP primary to Joe Miller, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she's not a quitter and is "still in this game."
Murkowski told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she's been inundated with calls and e-mails from supporters, asking her not to leave the race. She said she had been ready to consider her future outside the Senate on Aug. 31, when she conceded, but has been humbled by the outpouring from Alaskans, is listening and weighing her options.
She said that if this was "all about Lisa, certainly the easy thing for me to do would be to figure out what my next opportunity would be with my family and just settle in to a nice job."
"But what I'm looking at is my state and the future of my state for my kids. So, I have not made that determination that I'm going to give up. I'm not a quitter, never have been. And I'm still in this game," Murkowski said.
She met briefly Tuesday with the Libertarian candidate David Haase after friends of hers -- without her direction, she said -- approached his party, asking if the Libertarians would consider a Murkowski candidacy. She said she had an interesting discussion with Haase but made clear she's not interested in changing her "political stripes."
While the Libertarians are welcome to look at her record, during eight years in the Senate and, before that, in the state Legislature, "I will not change who I am for any party," she said. "You take me or leave me, because I am who I am."
A party's candidate would have to withdraw by Sept. 15 so someone else could run on the November election. Haase hasn't committed to that, and there are no guarantees the Libertarians would pick Murkowski. Party leaders earlier voted against putting her on the ballot. Party Chairman Scott Kohlhaas said the party has tried to stay open in continuing a dialogue, but he described the odds of her appearing on the ballot as long.
Besides a third-party run, Murkowski also could seek a write-in candidacy, which she called high risk. Or, she could decide to stay out of the race.
She gave no timetable for a decision but acknowledged one needs to be made soon. She has until five days before the general election to decide on a write-in run. She said she's listening to Alaskans and giving "considered thought."
Randy DeSoto, a Miller spokesman, said Miller and "many others have thanked her for her service to the state of Alaska, but we obviously feel now that Joe has presented the issues of the campaign, and the decision has been made by the voters."
Miller, an attorney and self-described "constitutional conservative" backed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express, led Murkowski by 2,020 votes as of the last ballot count, Sept. 3.
Murkowski described her options in continuing as "extraordinarily risky," and said she wouldn't even be thinking about going on if not for the showing of support and the risk she believes the state faces.
There are a host of issues at play, she said, from losing seniority in the Senate to the direction that both major party candidates are proposing taking the state that she believes are "causing Alaskans to sit up and pay attention and say, 'What just happened in this election and what are we left with?' And that's why they are coming back to me, saying, 'Is there any other opportunity that you would consider?' So that's kind of where I am today."