Tipline: Does a Lisa Murkowski GOP Exit Have Legs Again?

Animals,

While I have been away from SSG on a post-COVID worldwide victory tour, one of the Boys, “Stendec” sent me a take on why there’s definitely some smoke in the “Will Lisa Murkowski leave the Republican Party?” furnace – and possibly a fire too.

We posted about this earlier in the year and have open ears to all tops from the Boys. You can submit yours here.

But without further ado, here is reader Stendec’s account of why he is buying 4c shares of Lisa Murkowski to leave the GOP.

KEENDAWG.

Movement Soon in the “Murkowski a Republican” market?  

by Stendec

Summary:  Senator Lisa Murkowski continues to make comments that the Republican party is not for her if it is going to be nothing more than a party of personality for Trump.  In most of the news articles on this subject, when asked about the possibility of leaving the party, Murkowski generally just says she won’t leave the party to become a Democrat, but left upspoken is the distinct possibility of leaving to become an Independent while still caucusing with the.  I’ve recently come across unreported comments from a press conference in which she says becoming an Independent is “certainly an avenue” that she is open to (see “More Recent Developments” below), so clearly it is on her mind.  Combine all of this with news reports that Trump is going to use his CPAC appearance this weekend to “claim total control of GOP,” and you might see some movement in this otherwise stagnant market next week.  (See Axios article: “Scoop: Trump to claim total control of GOP.”)  

Trump has been pretty reliable about making nasty comments about anyone who crosses him.  In fact, if he holds true to form, he’ll specifically call Murkowski “nasty” because she’s a woman that has crossed him.

The biggest problem with this market is the end date: April 1.  The chances that Murkowski would leave the party before her next election, in November 2022, are pretty good (I put it somewhere around 30-40%, but reasonable minds can differ).  The general consensus though seems to be that there is no reason for her to rush into such a move.  This makes a potential move by the April 1 market deadline less likely, but there is also the possibility that she might want to do it earlier rather than later so that its already old news by the time the election rolls around.  

And if, as expected, Trump uses CPAC to push for complete control of the party, and if, as expected, Trump bashes the seven sinful Republicans who voted Yes on impeachment, and if Murkowski remains true to her comments that she doesn’t want to be in the party if it is only the party of Trump, then there is a decent chance we’ll see an upward swing on the No prices next week after news reports of reactions to Trump’s CPAC comments.   

I know that’s a lot of ifs, but most of them are expected to play out.  I generally stay away from longshot markets, but No shares at the current price of 4 cents seem like a low cost, undervalued investment that have good opportunity for some small movement next week coupled with some potential of a 20-to-1 payout by the April 1 deadline.  And if there is no movement by next week, you’ll probably have time to get out cheap – how much lower can they go?  In January, there were still people paying 5 cents for shares on Steven Miller becoming Secretary of DHS by March 1.  

For those interested in more details, here they are:  

Murkowski’s Unique History

Murkowski’s father was a US senator from Alaska from 1981 until 2002.  Lisa became a state legislator in 1998 and won reelection in 2000 and 2002.  In her 2002 election, Murkowski supported abortion rights and rejected some conservative economics, and she won her Republican primary by only 56 votes.  Her father became governor of Alaska in December 2002 and appointed Lisa to fill his vacant senate seat.  She won a full senate term in 2004.  She lost the 2010 Senate Republican primary to tea party candidate Joe Miller but ran as a write-in  (still as a Republican though) in the general election and won.  She won the Republican primary in 2016 and won the general election by a plurality, beating her same opponent, Joe Miller, who this time ran as a Libertarian.  She garnered 44% of the vote to Libertarian Miller’s 29%.  An independent candidate won 13% and the Democrat won only 12%.  She is up for reelection in November 2022.  

Since Murkowski’s 2016 reelection, Alaska has done away with partisan primaries and switched to rank order voting, and Murkowski was widely rumored to have been the impetus behind the new statute.  Under the new system, the top four finishers from the primary, regardless of party, will move on to the general election.  It’s optional for candidates to even list their party affiliation on the ballot.  Whether or not she stays Republican or goes Independent, the four top finishers will almost certainly be, in no particular order: Murkowski, her Republican challenger on the right, the top Democrat, and the top Libertarian.  

Alaska in general is widely known for its strong independent streak (that’s why Sarah Palin always billed herself as a “maverick” who was “going rogue.”)  Murkowski definitely fits this mold, and she always publicly touts her allegiance to the state rather than to the party.  

According to GovTrack and the NY Times, she is the second most liberal Republican senator.  Her stance as an independent-minded Republican coincides with Alaskans’ independent streak.  She says she meets frequently with conservative Democrat Joe Manchin and other Senate moderates.  

Market Predication/News Reports:  This market was created after Murkowski bashed Trump in news reports for his role in the siege on the Capitol.  In an Alaska Daily News article on Jan 8, Murkowski called on Trump to resign over his responsibility for the attack.  She then added that maybe the Republican party wasn’t for her anymore:

  • “Well, you know, there’s a lot of people who actually thought that I did that in 2010, think that I became an independent. I didn’t have any reason to leave my party in 2010. I was a Republican who ran a write-in campaign, and I was successful. But I will tell you, if the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me,she said.  (emphasis added)  

There have been similar articles from various sources in the ensuing weeks along similar lines, such as the following.

  • January 22, NY Times: “if the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this party is for me.”  

More Recent Developments.  Murkowski has since voted yes on impeachment and come under even more fire from within the Republican party, including being censured by several local party districts in Alaska.  She was back in Juneau last week to address the legislature while the Senate was off and also had a press conference.  She gave similar comments to the above, and they were widely reported in Alaska media.  However, I recently listened to her entire press conference and found some interesting tidbits that don’t appear to have been reported anywhere in which she directly comments on her consideration of becoming an Independent.  Here’s my transcript with boldface on the most relevant parts.  Here’s the link if you want to listen for yourself.

  • “…Well Jeff, you know, the Republican party in my view was a pretty good party before Donald Trump, and I believe we can be a good party after Donald Trump.  Right now I think we’re still trying to figure out who we are.  Because if we are the party of just one man and not the party of good principles, then that’s a challenge – certainly a challenge for me… (at about 31:24 in the recording) 

  • Would I leave the party?  You know, there’s been a lot of questions about ‘Would I leave the party?’  I made very clear if I were to no longer view myself as a fit in the Republican party, I can tell you without hesitation and doubt, there’s no, there is no opportun – there is no way that I would go the Democrats.  I’m not a Democrat.  And so I continue to be a Republican, but not a Trump Republican.  And so, if the party continues as a party of a person, of a personality, as opposed to party of principle, then that’s not a party for me…  Does that mean that I could, that I would become an Independent?  That’s certainly an avenue.  But I think right now our party is trying to figure out who we are.  And you’re seeing that play out in the news right now, right now.  Former President Trump has made very very clear he did not like Mitch McConnell’s comments after the trial, even though McConnell voted to acquit.  But he’s made very clear that he wasn’t happy with that and by gosh he’s gonna go after all of us…. What needs to drive me is this place, these people.  The people who returned me in 2010, after I lost the primary…”  (at about 35:45)

It’s what you don’t say.  Note that Murkoswki said, “And so I continue to be a Republican,” but she did not say, “and I’m going to continue being a Republican.” She has used this particular wording a few times since the insurrection, always in the present tense, but has avoided saying anything about staying with the party in the future.  In fact, she explicitly said that an independent run is “an avenue,” so she’s thinking about it.  And she also referenced being dedicated to the people who returned her in the 2010 election, which was when she ran as a write-in, but she didn’t say anything about the people who voted for her in 2016 when she was the Republican candidate.  Freudian slips?    

Further Reading:  From Washington Post Sept 2020 state-by-state election forecast:  “Still, Democrats are often competitive in statewide races … That has a lot to do with the state’s willingness to back independents and third-party candidates, five of whom will share the ballot with Biden and Trump.”  (emphasis added) 

To see more on how Murkowski gains immunity from Trump’s revenge under Alaska’s ranked choice voting, see this article from Alaska Public Media.

The article also suggests that the chairman of the AK Republican party wants Murkowski to be replaced by a true conservative (he said this even before the impeachment vote), giving Murkowski even more reason to bolt to Independent.

Well boys, what do you think?

KD.

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