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Murkowski brushes off GOP backlash: 'I'm good with' Kavanaugh vote

The Hill logo The Hill 10/10/2018 Jordain Carney
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, talks with reporters after the confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 in Washington. © AP Photo/Alex Brandon Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, talks with reporters after the confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 in Washington.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is brushing off questions about potential political retribution over her opposition to putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, which has earned her fierce criticism from President Trump and conservatives. "I took the vote that I took. And I'm good with it and I'm moving forward. I think we all need to be, so I'm not going to dwell on the 'what ifs,'" Murkowski told reporters in the Senate basement on Tuesday evening.

Murkowski was the only Republican senator to oppose Kavanaugh's nomination, saying that she thought he was a "good man" but that she "could not conclude that he is the right person for the court at this time." Trump told The Washington Post in an interview shortly before Kavanaugh was confirmed to the high court over the weekend that Murkowski "will never recover" politically from her "present" vote and that Alaska voters will "never forgive" her.

Fox News host Sean Hannity has called for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) to make a "political comeback" and challenge Murkowski. Palin pointed toward the year Murkowski will be up for reelection, tweeting last week, "I can see 2022 from my house."

Tuckerman Babcock, the chairman of Alaska Republican Party, told The Associated Press that the state GOP could reprimand the senator, issue a statement on her vote or even withdraw its support of her, which would include encouraging her not to run for reelection in 2022 as a Republican.

Asked on Tuesday if she was concerned about potential retribution from the state party, Murkowski responded that she was "moving forward."

"It goes the same as I just said. I took the vote that I took and we're moving forward," she added.

Murkowski voted against advancing Kavanaugh's nomination during a procedural vote last Friday and said she was opposed to his nomination in the final vote to confirm him on Saturday.

She was recorded as "present" during the final vote, something she did as a courtesy to offset the absence of Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who supported Kavanaugh but was at his daughter's wedding back home in Montana.

The Kavanaugh vote isn't the first time Murkowski has bucked her party.

During her 2010 reelection bid, Murkowski lost her GOP Senate primary but went on to win the general election as a write-in candidate. For their part, Republican senators are keeping their distance from Trump's criticism directed at the Alaska senator.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been asked about Murkowski's vote in multiple interviews since Friday but has declined to directly weigh in.

When asked if Trump is speaking for the Senate caucus, GOP Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), McConnell's No. 2, told reporters on Tuesday that he respects Murkowski's decision.

"I respect Sen. Murkowski voting the way she felt like she had to vote. That's, in the end, a matter between our individual consciences and our constituents back home," Cornyn said.

GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) told reporters that Trump's comments weren't a "good thing to do."

"I think he has backed off. I think he realizes himself he probably shouldn't have done that," Hatch said.

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