Lobbyists Turn Away From Murkowski

Posted September 18, 2010 at 8:42am

Even as Sen. Lisa Murkowski tries to gin up K Street support for her long-shot write-in bid to keep her Senate seat, lobbyists say they are under enormous pressure by GOP leaders not to help the incumbent.

The Alaska Republican, who lost in the primary to the tea party-backed Joe Miller, announced on Friday that she would run as a write-in candidate for her seat. And she has tapped a far-from-Alaska constituency, D.C. lobbyists, to help her raise money.

As ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and as vice chairwoman of the Republican Conference, she was courted by K Street and enjoyed the sector’s fundraising help.

But she has resigned her leadership post, and now her party’s leaders, including National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), are backing Miller.

“Word has gone out from Cornyn and McConnell and everyone, ‘Support the nominee,'” one well-placed lobbyist said. “I’m not supporting her. If you support her, you’re going to screw yourself with leadership. And you’ll be dealing with the wrath” of Miller should he win the seat.

Another lobbyist pointed out that there’s virtually no upside to helping Murkowski. And even though the business community is not in line with the conservative tea party in many ways, Miller is viewed as a viable candidate.

“Of all the tea party, he’s the best one,” this lobbyist said. As for Murkowski, “She can’t even help you now that she’s been kicked off her leadership post.”