Murkowski, Sullivan and Young: Lips sealed ahead of GOP presidential nomination fight

WASHINGTON -- Alaska's leading Republican lawmakers aren't willing to lend public support to any of the presidential candidates vying for Alaska's delegates at the upcoming Republican National Convention.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, along with U.S. Rep. Don Young, declined to publicly support any candidate in advance of Tuesday's Republican presidential preference poll in Alaska.

Only Sullivan would specifically say that he will absolutely support whoever is the eventual GOP nominee. On Monday, Sullivan discussed front-runner Donald Trump's unconventional nature in response to a question about Trump's reluctance to disavow support from former Ku Klux Klan leader and white supremacist David Duke.

"I'm not saying I support everything he does. I don't support everything any candidate does," Sullivan said Monday in Juneau. "But there are certain things that are beyond the pale, right? Nobody should ever even remotely contemplate getting support from the KKK. It's outrageous -- idiotic," Sullivan said.

Young, asked if he'd support any eventual GOP nominee, offered a curious response, relayed by a spokesperson: "You mean support Hillary Clinton? Not a chance." Clinton is currently leading the contest to be the Democratic candidate for president, but she seems unlikely to nab the Republican nomination.

Sullivan, Young and Murkowski each raised some degree of concern in December about Trump's push to ban Muslims from traveling to the United States.

On Thursday in Washington, D.C., Young would not say whom he is supporting in the race. Instead, he suggested Alaskans should "select a candidate that best exemplifies their values, principles and vision for Alaska and the nation."

Sullivan also declined to endorse a candidate, even though one of them -- Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas -- actually came to Alaska and campaigned on his behalf in 2014.

But it seems that alliance doesn't extend in the other direction; Sullivan has not hinted that he'll similarly support Cruz's campaign, or his other Senate colleague, Marco Rubio, R-Florida.

"I get along really well with Sen. Cruz," Sullivan said Monday, adding that he feels Cruz is a "vigorous" representative for Texas. But there were other current and former candidates, including Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Sen. Rand Paul, "who were helpful in different ways in my election in 2014," presenting him with a "tough situation" when it comes to endorsements, Sullivan said.

For now, the freshman senator would rather keep his voting preference to himself.

Murkowski's campaign manager, Steve Wackowski, dodged questions about the presidential campaign battle at hand, instead urging Alaska Republicans to vote on Tuesday.

"We have a number of great candidates to choose from that I believe will be better for Alaska than Bernie or Hillary," but Murkowski won't be endorsing any of them in the primary "as she is laser-focused on her race," Wackowski said.

Wackowski did not elaborate on why the senator's focus on her own contest prevents her from endorsing a candidate for president, and he did not say whether Murkowski will support any eventual GOP nominee for president.

Erica Martinson reported from Washington and Nathaniel Herz reported from Juneau.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is Alaska Dispatch News' Washington, DC reporter, and she covers the legislation, regulation and litigation that impact the Last Frontier.  Erica came to ADN after years as a reporter covering energy at POLITICO. Before that, she covered environmental policy at a DC trade publication and worked at several New York dailies.

Nathaniel Herz

Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He’s been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at ADN and Alaska Public Media. He’s reported around the state and loves cross-country skiing.