Murkowski says she remains a Republican after drawing attention for anti-Trump stance

Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski made headlines over the weekend with comments on her unwillingness to vote for former president Donald Trump, which put her in an ever-shrinking group of GOP members opposing the party’s presumptive nominee for president.

“I wish that as Republicans, we had a nominee that I could get behind,” Murkowski told CNN journalist Manu Raju in a brief hallway interview posted online on Sunday.

“I certainly can’t get behind Trump,” Murkowski added. Her comments triggered stories on a number of national news sites.

On Monday, Murkowski said in a statement to the Daily News that she remains a member of the GOP, after her comments to Raju appeared to indicate she had not ruled out leaving the party.

“I have been a Republican my entire life and continue to be despite our party’s nominee. My statements last week echoed what I believe is on many Americans’ minds — we are navigating uncertain and challenging political times. I’m very discouraged to see a rerun of the 2020 campaign between these two deeply flawed candidates,” Murkowski said in a written statement.

Murkowski is one of a small group of Senate Republicans who have been open about their opposition to Trump’s 2024 presidential run. The group also includes Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Todd Young of Indiana, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

Her comments in the CNN interview were in line with Murkowski’s long-standing position on Trump. Murkowski was quick after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol to call on Trump to step down, and was also one of only seven Republicans to vote for his impeachment at the time.


Even before then, Murkowski has distanced herself from the far-right wing of the GOP. In 2010, she won her seat in a write-in campaign after a tea party Republican beat her in the GOP primary. In 2022, she beat a Trump-backed Republican opponent in a ranked-choice election.

Ahead of the 2022 election, Trump campaigned against Murkowski, speaking in support of Republican opponent Kelly Tshibaka at an Anchorage rally.

In 2016, both Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, called on Trump to drop out of the presidential race after the GOP nominee boasted in vulgar language about forcing himself sexually on women.

Asked by Raju last week if she was considering leaving the Republican Party to become an independent, Murkowski said she thinks she is “very independent-minded.”

“I just regret that our party is seemingly becoming a party of Donald Trump,” said Murkowski.

“I am navigating my way through some very interesting political times. Let’s just leave it at that,” Murkowski said when she was asked again about becoming an independent.

In January 2021, Murkowski was also asked if she would remain a Republican.

“If the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me,” Murkowski said at the time.

But at a candidate forum ahead of the 2022 election, Murkowski said she had never considered leaving her party.

Murkowski for months has bemoaned the prospect of a rematch between President Joe Biden and Trump. Shortly before Super Tuesday, Murkowski announced she was endorsing Nikki Haley’s run for the Republican nominee for president. Haley dropped out of the race soon after the Super Tuesday elections, in which she failed to gain traction as a candidate.

Among Alaska’s statewide elected Republicans, Murkowski’s position is an outlier. Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has aligned himself with Trump, becoming last year one of the first Republican governors to endorse Trump’s 2024 run. Sullivan, Alaska’s other U.S. senator, has also endorsed Trump. In addition, the two Republicans running for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat — Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom and businessman Nick Begich — have also endorsed Trump. U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, a Democrat running to keep her seat, has endorsed Biden.

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Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The AP and Report for America and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at isamuels@adn.com.