Breaking: Murkowski concedes Alaska primary defeat

But no, ‘dirty air’ Lisa is not a “climate change victim” even though her opponent is an anti-science ideologue

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska conceded late Tuesday in her Republican primary race against Joe Miller, a lawyer from Fairbanks who was backed by Tea Party activists, Sarah Palin and other conservatives.

Mr. Miller shocked the political establishment here and in Washington last week when he emerged with a narrow lead, 1,668 votes, after the primary vote, on Aug. 24. His victory makes him the presumed favorite to win the Senate seat from this heavily Republican state.

That means the GOP candidate for Senate from the state that’s Ground Zero for climate change is a hardcore science denier who recently said “We haven’t heard there’s man-made global warming.”

Last week, Jeffrey Birnbaum of the conservative newsletter EnergyGuardian (subs. req’d) leapt to the beyond-dubious conclusion, “Murkowski is a climate change victim”:

As the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski toyed with working with Democrats on a climate change bill. The mere hint -and that’s all it ever was — that she might look at drafting a compromise global warming bill may well have frozen her reelection chances.

It’s a warning to all Republicans and probably some Democrats, too: Beware of climate change, at least as a legislative issue.

Conventional wisdom has blamed her not-yet-official defeat in a Republican primary Tuesday on 1) opposition from the powerful Sarah Palin, 2) opposition from the Tea Party, 3) the senator’s many connections to the GOP establishment and 4) her support for Alaska’s over-reliance on federal largesse.

One other cause of her troubles has been underplayed, but will become timely soon.

Alaska is not typical when it comes to energy. The state is awash in oil and Murkowski was probably ill-advised to even allow the words “climate change” to pass her lips except in a derisive tone….

Climate change can kill — at least in the political sense — and Murkowski may soon stand as a martyr to the cause. Other politicians will certainly take notice.


First off, Alaska is not typical when it comes to climate change. Anybody who lives in the state can see the warming and its impacts — even Palin has written “That’s not to say I deny the reality of some changes in climate “” far from it. I saw the impact of changing weather patterns firsthand while serving as governor of our only Arctic state.” So expressing concern about climate change in the issue is hardly a political loser.


Second, Lisa “dirty air” Murkowski did plenty of EPA-bashing on the climate issue. Her big mistake was taking this election for granted and not spending money to explain to voters where she stood on various issues and how extreme Miller was — a mistake that, say, John McCain didn’t make in his primary campaign.

Third, even if very many voters were aware of her supposedly non-hard-line on climate, the notion that any substantial number were actually voting on this issue is beyond dubious, especially when there are so many other more widely known factors, as the NYT reports:

Yet many voters had mixed feelings about her because she supports abortion rights and has voted for several Obama administration measures.

Many voters also disliked the fact that she was initially appointed to her seat in 2002 by her father, Frank H. Murkowski, when he was governor.

She didn’t vote with Obama on any climate initiative.

Fourth, this was a Republican primary in a hard red state with only some 100,000 votes cast — and Murkowski is going to lose by under 2000 votes. Even if one could imagine that the main reason say, a few thousand Palin-ites showed up and voted for Miller who were otherwise not going to vote or who would have voted for Murkowski if she had been tougher on climate — that would merely tell us something we already knew. The Tea Party folks are virulently anti-science and you need to be the same if you want to win them over, which ain’t news:

The real question is when will progressives create a political movement that punishes politicians who ote against climate and clean energy action.