EXCLUSIVE: Lisa Murkowski Meets Personally With Alaska LP Officials UPDATE: Bitney, Halcro Behind Push
Posted on | September 7, 2010 | 63 Comments
Alaska Republican sources confirm the report by Eric Dondero that Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski had lunch in Anchorage today with Libertarian Party senatorial candidate Dave Haase and state LP chairman Scott Kohlhaas.
One source said that when Haase was asked about the meeting afterwards, he indicated that he had made no decision about Murkowski’s effort to replace him as the Libertarian candidate, even though the state LP executive committee had previously rejected Murkowski.
Now, Dondero and other sources say that Republican Bill Walker, who mounted an unsuccessful GOP primary challenger to Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, has made an effort to secure the LP gubernatorial nomination (replacing Billy Toien). Walker had previously been rebuffed by the Alaska Independence Party.
UPDATE: At least one top national GOP official has contacted the Alaska LP to discuss the latest developments. LP officials have not changed their determination to stick with their party’s current nominees.
UPDATE II: I’m going to have to put the squeeze on my sources, as it appears that these exclusive tips aren’t quite as exclusive as I’d been led to believe. When Allah and Ace both beat me on this kind of story — my home field, as it were — it’s kinda embarrassing.
Well, exclusive: Lisa and her new BFFs at the Alaska LP had barbecued ribs for lunch.
UPDATE III: I reported Aug. 27 that longtime Palin-hater Andrew Halcro was the first to promote the Murkowksi-Libertarian idea, but Scott Conroy at Real Clear Politics now gets Murkowski campaign manager John Bitney on the record:
“If she wants to stay in the race, I’ll support her 100 percent.”
Reached by phone from Murkowski’s campaign office, which has remained up and running as staffers complete administrative tasks, Bitney sounded like someone who was itching to jump back into the fight.
“It is a campaign office that is just ready to launch at a moment’s notice,” he said.
Maybe you don’t know who Bitney is, but he’s a favorite “anonymous” source for anti-Palin journalists.
Why? Because he was on her 2006 gubernatorial campaign staff and subsequently became her legislative director until he developed what one Republican source in Alaska described as a “zipper problem.” The married Bitney had an affair with another man’s wife and was fired by Palin. He has been badmouthing her ever since.
Bitney has presented himself as the strategic genius behind Palin’s gubernatorial campaign but, as my source said last week in reference to Bitney’s handling of Murkowski’s campaign, “You go from 40 points ahead to losing by 1,600 votes? Some genius.”
Another source in Alaska suggests that business supporters of Murkowksi have also been promoting her effort to get the Libertarian nomination. They’re probably concerned about losing their influence in GOP politics.
UPDATE IV: Eric Dondero at Libertarian Republican now gives background, including the fact that “at least one former staffer for US Congressman Ron Paul” has been talking to LP candidate Dave Haase. So there’s a Paulista angle here that ought to make things interesting.
UPDATE V: Welcome, Instapundit readers! As for Professor Reynolds’ theory that Murkowski would not risk “the enmity of Tea Party folks nationwide,” I frankly don’t think she gives a rip about anyone but herself and her precious power.
Being called “senator” seems to be powerfully addictive. Note how Arlen Specter desperately tried to hang on. I’d be interested in knowing what percentage of U.S. Senators have voluntarily retired in the past 50 years.
UPDATE VI: A reader writes to correct the record. As explained in Sarah Palin’s memoir, Going Rogue, although Bitney has claimed that he was fired for the affair, he was actually fired for incompetence — including one occasion when he forgot to bring a bill to the bill-signing ceremony. As the reader says, “Bitney uses that false story in order to exonerate himself for being fired for incompetence and to make Sarah Palin look like a religious zealot out to punish adulterers.”
UPDATE VII: Dan Riehl points out that in a debate last month with Miller, “Murkowski said she respects the electorate and would support whoever wins.”
UPDATE VIII: Examining the “lifeboat” theory.