Newspaper article Roll Call

How Murkowski's Voting Record Could Help Begich in Alaska

Newspaper article Roll Call

How Murkowski's Voting Record Could Help Begich in Alaska

Article excerpt

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, might not want her Democratic colleague, Mark Begich, to win re-election in 2014, but her habit of breaking with the GOP on several key votes could give him some political cover ahead of 2014.

"As an Alaska delegation, we've got to be working on those issues that are important to our constituents," Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News this week. "Sen. Begich has been keying in on the issues that I think Alaskans are worried about and doing what he was tasked to do."

"I'm going to be working to get Republicans elected," she later added.

Murkowski's more moderate voting record could help Begich, given how much the two Alaskans overlap on some issues. Begich faces a tough re-election fight this year in a state that has traditionally elected Republicans to Congress. There's a competitive GOP primary in August to determine his opponent.

Murkowski, once a member of the Senate GOP leadership team, has broken ranks several times since her 2010 re-election victory as a write-in candidate. Murkowski votes with her party only 61 percent of the time, according to data compiled by the Washington Post's Congress Votes Database.

For Begich, that means any Republican candidate who criticizes his stance might also be disparaging Murkowski.

Murkowski was one of six Republicans to support opening debate on the extension of long-term unemployment benefits, and she told CQ Roll Call that GOP leadership didn't try to pressure her otherwise.

Before Democrats changed the Senate's procedural rules, Murkowski was one of two Republicans to consistently vote with Democrats to open debate on nominees, even as her other GOP colleagues filibustered them. She was the third Senate Republican to back gay marriage.

Murkowski supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. She voted for a comprehensive immigration overhaul this Congress, after voting last Congress to pass the DREAM Act. …

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