The Washington Times - September 22, 2010, 03:26PM

Senate Republicans met on Wednesday afternoon and surprised political observers by allowing Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, to keep her post as ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Republicans on the hill Tuesday seemed doubtful that Ms. Murkowski could survive holding the leadership position, but in a surprise reversal during a meeting today, GOP Senators decided to allow the now write-in candidate who lost her Republican primary to Joe Miller, to stay in her leadership post. 

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However, the Senate GOP did fill Ms. Murkowski’s former role of vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, establishing Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming in the leadership position. Senator Murkowski resigned from that position last week.

Speculations as to why Republicans did not cut Ms. Murkowski loose on the Energy Committee may have to do with the latest Rasmussen poll numbers on the Alaska Senate race showing Mr. Miller up double digits ahead of both Ms. Murkowsi and Democratic candidate Scott McAdams. Apparently, Ms. Murkowski is cutting massively into the Democrat’s poll numbers and having little effect on Mr. Miller’s momentum in the race.

Republicans may believe she’ll lose anyway at this point, and she already resigned her position in the conference, so it would not be worth shifting positions and staffs around, when Republicans likely figure she’ll be gone in January. Finally, in a lame duck session, Senate Republicans are going to need all the votes they can get. Republicans could be figuring that slamming Ms. Murkowski now could have consequences later.