Libertarians cool to Murkowski candidacy

Sean CockerhamMcClatchy-Tribune News Service
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

Sen. Lisa Murkowski met with Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate David Haase on Tuesday to talk about taking his place and running on the Libertarian ticket. But Alaska Libertarian Party Chairman Scott Kolhaas said after the meeting that "I don't think it's happening."

The five-member executive committee of the Libertarian Party met Aug. 29 and unanimously voted against considering allowing Murkowski on its ticket. But Murkowski supporters still continued to push the potential Libertarian route following Murkowski's concession two days later that she had lost the Republican primary to Joe Miller.

Murkowski met with Haase in Anchorage on Tuesday in a meeting arranged by Murkowski supporters. The Murkowski campaign said she didn't know before showing up that Haase would be there.

For Murkowski to run as a Libertarian, Haase would have to step aside and the party would need to reverse its vote barring her from the ticket.

"It would be a serious flip-flop," party chairman Kohlhaas said. "And I don't think it's happening."

Murkowski did not respond to repeated requests for an interview from the Daily News. But she told The Associated Press she's not a quitter and is "still in this game."

She has few options to stay in the game for the November election.

Libertarian Haase is the only third party candidate in the U.S. Senate race. So that's appears to be Murkowski's only choice for her name to appear on the ballot. Ted Gianoutsos, a no-party candidate who petitioned to be on the ballot, has raised the possibility of Murkowski taking his spot. But the Alaska Division of Elections said on Tuesday that wouldn't be allowed.

It's too late for Murkowski to petition to be on the ballot as an independent. But she could wage a write-in campaign as an independent, and 917 people have signed on to a Facebook page urging her to do so. Murkowski told The Associated Press that a write-in candidacy would be high risk.

Murkowski said, though, that she's received many calls and e-mails from supporters asking her not to leave the race. Murkowski said that she is giving "considered thought" to what to do next.

Libertarian Senate candidate Haase said no decision was made at his Tuesday meeting with Murkowski. "Anything this important is worth sleeping on," Haase said. "And she's got a lot to think about."

Haase said Murkowski does have Libertarian tendencies but that her support for the war on drugs is a problem. Party chairman Kolhaas has also identified other Murkowski positions as a problem for the Libertarians. Those include her vote to authorize the war in Iraq and her 2008 vote in favor of the Bush administration's Wall Street bailout plan, which Murkowski has said she regrets.

Haase said he might be willing to talk to his party's leadership on Murkowski's behalf.

"If she convinced me I would do everything I can to convince them. But she hasn't convinced me. And she hasn't decided that she wants to run. ... She doesn't want to be seen as somebody that will switch parties just to get elected," Haase said.

Kohlhaas said the Libertarians are trying to be polite. But he said he understands it's "not going to change her stripes," and if that's the case, it would be impossible for the party's executive committee to reverse itself and allow Murkowski on the ticket.

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