Alaska’s Libertarian Party candidate for Senate said in an interview Sunday that he will not give up his line on the ballot to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was upset in the Republican primary last month by “tea party”-backed challenger Joe Miller and has been considering a third-party run for her job.
But once again in Alaska, it’s not over even when it really looks like it’s over.
“I will not be stepping down to allow Sen. Lisa Murkowski or anyone else to take my place as the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate from Alaska,” David Haase told The Washington Times on Sunday.
“It is time to stop the speculation and accusations,” said Mr. Haase. “I will remain the Libertarian candidate, period.”
But Mr. Haase suggested that the drama may not be over and that Mr. Miller, a Fairbanks lawyer, is still not free of the threat of a divisive run on another ticket by Mrs. Murkowski.
The Libertarian candidate said Mrs. Murkowski may well try to stay in the general election by mounting a write-in campaign, which could split the GOP vote and give the election to Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, the little-known Democratic nominee. Top Senate Republicans, sensing a chance to take control of the chamber in November, are making frenzied efforts to talk Mrs. Murkowski into dropping out of the race for good.
Mrs. Murkowski has kept Mr. Miller and his GOP supporters in suspense over a third-party bid. The senator is also not on the best of terms with former Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican who endorsed Mr. Miller’s primary challenge.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, National Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas and Sen. John McCain of Arizona have formally embraced Mr. Miller, sending a message to Mrs. Murkowski.
Mr. Haase had left the door open to stepping aside if Mrs. Murkowski endorsed the Libertarian Party’s ideas, and it was not clear why the talks failed.
Mrs. Murkowski could still launch a write-in campaign for her seat, said Murkowski supporter and former state Rep. Andrew Halcro. Politico reported Sunday that the senator could make an announcement as early as Monday and was leaning toward a bid.
Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was the only senator ever to have won a write-in campaign - in 1954 before he left the Democratic Party to become a Republican.
“I met with Lisa Murkowski last week at the request of the chairman of the Alaskan Libertarian Party,” Mr. Haase told The Times on Sunday. He described the meeting as “a pleasant visit.”
“She made no request of me and she did not offer to change her position on anything,” he said.
Mr. Haase faulted the press for showing little interest in the proposals he had presented to the senator as part of the deal for his stepping down, on issues ranging from solving Social Security’s funding woes to abolishing the personal income tax.
“You’d think the press would ask even more questions of the so-called experts and therefore create an honest dialogue and a learning process,” he said.
But he also noted that, even had he stepped aside for Mrs. Murkowski, she would have had to win over other party officials - no easy feat in a party continually divided over interpretations of policy and principles.