Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted Wednesday that fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) will be able to keep her seat when she comes up for re-election in 2022, as the Alaskan lawmaker takes heat for her vote against the confirmation of U.S Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
What are the details?
Murkowski has been under fire for not voting with the rest of her party when Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate 50-48 on Saturday. She had voted against advancing the nominee's confirmation on Friday, and announced the same day that she would vote "no" at Saturday's full roll call.
Ultimately, she withdrew her "no" vote and replaced it with "present" — neutralizing her position as a courtesy to fellow Republican Steve Daines (R-Mont.) who had planned to vote for Kavanaugh but was unable to attend Saturday's vote due to a family obligation.
The Alaska Republican Party is now discussing whether to issue a reprimand for the senator, after fellow Alaskan Sarah Palin hinted that she might challenge Murkowski for her seat in four years.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump told The Washington Post of Murkowski's vote, "I think she will never recover from this. I think the people from Alaska will never forgive her for what she did."
But McConnell told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he disagrees with the president, saying of Murkowski, "She's certainly going to recover."
Noting that Murkowski won her 2010 re-election with a write-in campaign, McConnell added, "Nobody's going to beat her. She's about as strong as you can possibly be in Alaska."
Murkowski won re-election again in 2016 with just over 44 percent of the vote, due largely to a divided opposition that saw Libertarian Party candidate Joe Miller — who had previously defeated Murkowski in the 2010 Republican primary — finishing second with 29 percent of the vote. The Democrat in the race, Ray Metcalfe, finished a dismal fourth behind Murkowski, Miller, and independent candidate Margaret Stock.
What did Murkowski say?
Sen. Murkowski dismissed the president's comments about her on Wednesday, telling reporters that she knows Alaska "better than he does." Murkowski explained that her "barometer is not necessarily what the president says but what the people of Alaska say."
Murkowski went on to acknowledge that some constituents had voiced their disappointment over her vote against Kavanaugh, but said that was inevitable since voters in her state were split on whether Kavanaugh should have been confirmed.
But Politico reported on Tuesday that the Club for Growth has already dispatched a staffer to Alaska in search of a conservative challenger to run against the sitting senator, with a spokeswoman saying, "It's clear that voters weren't happy about what Murkowski did."
Several other GOP senators have voiced their support of Murkowski after her Kavanaugh vote, but she remains the only Republican senator who has opposed two of the president's signature initiatives — repealing Obamacare and nominating a conservative judge to the Supreme Court.
One Republican senator told Politico that Murkowski might be a lame duck no matter what.
"In a state that Trump carried by  points, I think she's committed political suicide," the senator said. "I just feel sorry for her. It just doesn't make sense."