The Other McCain

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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.

Murkowski was defeated by Tea Party challenger Joe Miller in the Aug. 24 Republican primary, but refused to concede until after absentee ballots were counted.

After Murkowski’s concession speech last week, I warned that “shenanigans” are still afoot in Alaska, and her top supporters have continued pushing her bid to get the LP slot.

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.


63 Responses to “EXCLUSIVE: Lisa Murkowski Meets Personally With Alaska LP Officials UPDATE: Bitney, Halcro Behind Push

  1. just a conservative girl
    September 7th, 2010 @ 6:16 pm
  2. ak4mc
    September 7th, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

    In Alaska, such shenanigans have a storied history. The 1990 AIP gubernatorial ticket of Wally Hickel/John Coghill defeated the Democrats’ ticket headed by Tony Knowles and the GOP ticket headed by Arliss Sturgelewski (Sturgelewski came in third).

    However, I’m not sure the parallels, such as they are, work out in the Libertarian Party’s favor; in 1990 the true-believer secessionists still had Coghill on the ticket and the governor’s term is only four years, vs. a six-year term for Senator.

    In short, even if the ploy succeeds the ALP would have put the decidedly un-libertarian Lisa back in the Senate for two years longer than her candidacy gurantees their ballot access. Bad math.

  3. Dan
    September 7th, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

    Robert Stacy McCain, how come Mitch McConnell has not come out and asked Lisa to step aside gracefully and endorse Miller? Why are top GOP people contacting the libertarians when they should be contacting Lisa and telling her to knock off her sore loser act?

  4. TR Sterling
    September 7th, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

    BTW: you have a 5 foot friend!

    good luck

  5. Carl
    September 7th, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

    In my opinion she is just bluffing. She has no intention of running. She knows she can’t win and will only help elect the Dem., and if this happens her name will be mud forever with Republicans both nationally and in Alaska.

    She is just trying to use leverage here to force McConnell and Cornyn into offering her someting to stay out of the race. Perhaps a job with a leading Washington legal firm, or VP Govt. relations with a major oil company. She probably has grown comfortable with the DC lifestyle and probably can’t bear the thought of giving up her Georgetown soirees and living full time in her “beloved” Alaska.

  6. Thomas L. Knapp
    September 7th, 2010 @ 7:29 pm


    You write:

    “In short, even if the ploy succeeds the ALP would have put the decidedly un-libertarian Lisa back in the Senate for two years longer than her candidacy gurantees their ballot access. Bad math.”

    If they do this (no, I don’t think they should), it would presumably be based on a belief that a Murkowski candidacy would serve as a rising tide to lift other Libertarian Party boats as well.

    I agree that Murkowski is “decidedly un-libertarian,” but not especially more so than Joe Miller (in the primary, he criticized her for being TOO libertarian on immigration), and maybe not even by comparison to the current ALP candidate.

  7. Adobe Walls
    September 7th, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

    The fact that neither Murkowski or Miller are very Libertarian explains why neither one ran as Libertarians in the primary. Amazing. It seems to me that for a supposedly Libertarian Party to consider nominating another parties reject would make them laughing stocks, unless and perhaps even if that candidate was an absolute lock to win. Given that said candidate would surely betray new friends in traditional GOP style just like her old friends I can’t see the upside even for Murkowski, except in Carl’s scenario.

  8. Thomas L. Knapp
    September 7th, 2010 @ 8:19 pm


    The up side for Murkowski is that she’d continue to be a US Senator.

    The up side for the GOP establishment is that she’d continue to caucus with the GOP, she’d likely run Republican against next time, and the establishment would have made it clear to upstarts/insurgents that the establishment always wins.

    One upside for the Alaska LP is that it would have established itself as a powerbroker in Alaska politics. Future GOP candidates would compete to be “Libertarian enough” that if they lost their primaries they could switch ballot lines or if they won their primaries that LP ballot line wouldn’t be available to their opponents.

    If I was still active in the LP I’d argue that that upside isn’t enough to make it worth it, but not everyone still in the LP agrees with me on that.

  9. Instapundit » Blog Archive » STACY MCCAIN: Anti-Palin Folks Behind Effort To Revive Murkowski Candidacy. Murkowski has to think…
    September 7th, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

    […] MCCAIN: Anti-Palin Folks Behind Effort To Revive Murkowski Candidacy. Murkowski has to think about whether a spoiler run in Alaska is worth the enmity of Tea Party folks […]

  10. jefferson101
    September 7th, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

    The Libertarians always claim to have “principles” that they go by. Even Ron Paul claims that.

    If Murky can run as a Libertarian candidate, that tells me all I need to know about their genuflections to expediency, at the cost of whatever principles they may hold.

    And with her, they’d dare to lecture me about not disliking Government enough? I don’t want to hear about them no more, because they have no Honor. Murky?


  11. ak4mc
    September 7th, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

    If they do this (no, I don’t think they should), it would presumably be based on a belief that a Murkowski candidacy would serve as a rising tide to lift other Libertarian Party boats as well.

    That would be a mistaken assumption LP officials in Alaska would know better than to make. Alaskans are notoriously prone to ticket-splitting, and will sometimes complain when the number of offices to vote on is greater than the number of parties running candidates.

  12. Adobe Walls
    September 7th, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

    Thomas L Knapp, the first part of #8 assumes that Murkowski running as a Libertarian doesn’t guarantee a Dem victory, is the Democrat that far out of the money? As for the LP upsides, they sound a little too politically conventional for the average Libertarian. I could be mistaken.

  13. Eric Dondero
    September 7th, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

    Tom Knapp might be interested to know that David Haase, the Libertarian Party candidate for US Senate in Alaska, is solidly Pro-Defense. He is a staunch supporter of the War in Iraq, and explicitly disagrees with the LP platform on the Wars in Afghanistand and Iraq. Furthermore, he was one of only 6 Libertarian Party members to attend the meeting of the hardcore Libertarian Defense Caucus at the Party’s recent national convention in St. Louis.

  14. section9
    September 7th, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

    I can’t believe that the Ronulans are getting involved. Ron knows that Palin got behind his son and stayed with him after the Rachel Maddow affair. For his people to get involved here is treachery of the blackest sort.

    Sarah Palin gave Rand Paul the laying on of hands, and Ron needs to butt the heck out and stay out.

    That said, I can’t believe the LP is considering running Daughter Dearest.

    Lastly, Robert, go examine Sarah’s twitter page. You will be pleasantly surprised, re: Christine O’ Donnell.

  15. swift boater
    September 7th, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

    I am not a fan of Ron Paul, as a matter of fact I am completely agnostic to Ron Paul. He’s a congresscritter from somewhere in TX and good for him and his constituents.

    With that said, why the immediate rush to judgment that he is encouraging the LP to go with Murky? If anything, and at the minimum,isn’t it just as likely he is counseling them against picking her up?

    From my reading of him he is a man of principle and would not want someone like Murky running as a Libertarian.

  16. Dave C
    September 7th, 2010 @ 10:20 pm

    I agree that Murkowski is “decidedly un-libertarian,” but not especially more so than Joe Miller (in the primary, he criticized her for being TOO libertarian on immigration),

    You mean, She’s for open borders and not for enforcing the law as it is on the books..

    Let’s call a spade a spade and an over privileged brat Lisa Murkowski.

  17. Walter Sobchak
    September 7th, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

    Runnig on the Libertarian ticket, Murkowski would get maybe 3 votes. Libertarians won’t vote for her. Republicans won’t vote for her. So her mom, her dad, and herself will vote for her.

  18. John.Frank
    September 7th, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

    It might be helpful if someone reminded Senator Murkowski (along with the ALP and the GOP) of what she said at a “senate candidate forum at Kenai Christian Church” on August 20th that she “respects the electorate and would support whoever wins.”

  19. Joe
    September 7th, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    Senator Lisa is sexy.

    Lisa M…not so much.

  20. Carl
    September 7th, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

    As I said before, this is a bluff by Murkowski. She knows her third party bid cannot be successful and at best would only be vengeful by electing a Dem..

    Here are some facts about Alaska politics. Alaska is NOT a solid red state. The Dem. candidate will always get somewhere between 40 and 45 percent. The Democratic vote up there is heavily union oriented. In fact, Alaska is one of the most unionized states in the nation. If they see a three way race, they WILL NOT vote for Murkowski, they will instead consolidate behind the Dem. candidate. The unions will make sure of this. Also, the Dems. have no great love for Lisa. In fact, they still despise her father Frank who as Gov. brought in some tough anti labor laws and was really tough on the public service unions.

    Therefore, the Dem. is likely to get 40 to 42% with Miller and Murkowski spliting the remaining 58 to 60%. While Murkowski may be competitive early on in the race, the Republican vote will eventually consolidate around Miller. Miller will be able to raise a lot of money without having to leave the state (Palin will look after this doing several big fundraisers for him in the Lower 48) and he will nuke Murkowski with an onslaught of negative ads. A number of third party groups will also join in to nuke Murkowski, driving her numbers down. And she will have limited ability to raise big money to counter the negative ads.

    Finally, Murkowski knows if all the history of her father appointing her to the Senate – along with the corruption of his administration – is brought up in campaign ads, her support will crater. Frank Murkowski didn’t get 16% in the 2006 gubernatorial primary soley because of Palin’s popularity, it was because Alaskans despised his administration!

    Lisa has never been a great vote getter. After being appointed in 2002- and finishing the two years of her father’s term – she faced little competion in the 2004 primary because everyone was afraid of running against her and angering her father who was still Governor at the time, and Frank took Palin out of play by appointing her to the Oil & Gas Commission. However, in the 2004 general election she barely beat the Democrat, Tony Knowles, by less than 3 points (48% to 45%). Many Republicans voted for the fringe candidates or stayed at home because of their dislike of her at the time.

    Therefore, I really believe she is only bluffing here, trying to cut the best deal she can with McConnell and Cornyn. And the Libertarian Party will play its part out in this charade, as it is giving them the most publicity and free media time they have ever had.

  21. Meadow
    September 8th, 2010 @ 1:05 am

    I’ve said it before and will say it again…. if you lose, pick up your marbles and go home! Don’t keep trying to win on another ticket.

    We know most pols think we (voters) are stupid, but most of us know good and well if a loser changes their party affiliation, they weren’t what we wanted in office.

    Pick ’em up, Lisa, head for the barn. Your day is over!

  22. Thomas L. Knapp
    September 8th, 2010 @ 1:07 am


    You write:

    “Thomas L Knapp, the first part of #8 assumes that Murkowski running as a Libertarian doesn’t guarantee a Dem victory”

    No, it assumes that Murkowski believes that it doesn’t guarantee a Dem victory, and further believes that it will likely mean a Murkowski victory. At least one poll returns that result. I wouldn’t bet money on it, but then again I’m not the incumbent US Senator looking for a way — any way — to stay in office.


    Yes, I knew that Haase leaned pro-aggression. That’s one reason I noted that “Murkowski is ‘decidedly un-libertarian,’ but not especially more so than Joe Miller … and maybe not even by comparison to the current ALP candidate.”


    You write:

    “You mean, She’s for open borders”

    Survey says: Bzzzzt. She voted for the Berlin Wa … er, the “border fence.” She’s probably slightly more pro-immigration-freedom than Tom Tancredo, but far from a libertarian on the issue. The only reason I found it interesting was that Miller thought she was too libertarian on it, which pretty much puts him in Kim Jong Il territory.

  23. Thomas L. Knapp
    September 8th, 2010 @ 1:10 am


    You make perfect sense, and you’re probably right.

    The real questions are:

    – Will she get whatever she’s trying to get with her bluff?

    – If she doesn’t, will she try to get the LP line or run as a write-in out of spite?

  24. Estragon
    September 8th, 2010 @ 1:31 am

    If you think Libertarians are above throwing over their long-held “principles,” you have no further to look than Daddy Paul himself and his stand on immigration. He was always for, and campaigned as LP Presidential candidate in 1988 upon, the LP platform which called for OPEN BORDERS – at least until it flared up as an issue in Texas in the last decade or so, when he deftly and quietly switched his position to “enforce the borders” although he’s not been a strong supporter of that movement.

    Papa Paul’s history of pork and earmarks carefully secured before he votes “NO!” on the final compromise spending bill which is guaranteed to pass is another example. When he brags about his “fighting unconstitutional federal spending,” he’s just flat-out lying.

    So never think of the LPers as a bunch of innocent potheads incapable of guile and deceit. Treachery is right up their alley.

    Alaska’s not as Red as some states, but this is a Red Wave year, and it is Red enough. Murky would run a poor third, drawing single digit support, and Miller still wins, but by a much smaller margin.

    Therefore, I tend to agree with Carl @ #18: she isn’t satisfied with how she is being taken care of by the Washington establishment, and is making some noise to draw some extra grease, like a squeaking wheel.

  25. Thomas L. Knapp
    September 8th, 2010 @ 1:38 am


    The more I think about your theory, the more sense it makes — so I’m flogging it over at my place (and elsewhere, with links here), too.

  26. Randy Rager
    September 8th, 2010 @ 1:56 am

    Estragon, that’s one of the reasons I left the LP and declared Independent. There is no such thing as a principled political party, and there never will be, simply because all political parties are formed for the accrual of power.

    Power inevitably attracts corruption.

  27. ic
    September 8th, 2010 @ 3:32 am

    Lisa dear, wait four years for Ted Steven’s seat. The seat he lost after being indicted for corruption. An indictment brought by a Dem to help put a Dem in office. The indictment was thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct, i.e. false charges for political reasons. You will be a hero helping to get rid of the Dem senator. Even Mama Grizzlie will help you. It’s better to negotiate with Mama Grizzlie to endorse Miller now in return for her help in four years. You’ll be politically dead and buried if you stays as a spoiler.

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  30. Dave C
    September 8th, 2010 @ 10:17 am

    Thomas L. Knapp
    September 8th, 2010 @ 1:07 am

    Survey says: Bzzzzt. She voted for the Berlin Wa … er, the “border fence.”

    You mean the fence in name only.. Because that was strictly a show vote.

    And nice job with the Berlin Wall reference.. You’re bending the bundle of reeds with the axe head in it to the point of breaking Godwin’s law with that. Among other ridiculous rhetoric. Kim Jong Il? Really?

    It’s the left who loves dictators.

    Besides.. are we a nation of laws or men? At one point, we use to be a nation of laws..

    But you seem intent on the corruptible nature of men.

  31. ak4mc
    September 8th, 2010 @ 11:13 am

    She voted for the Berlin Wa … er, the “border fence.”

    Right. Because the Berlin Wall was there to keep West Germans from getting into East Germany and sending those precious Ostmarks to their relatives in the squalid West.

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