Jonathan Chait

Lisa Murkowski, Republican Renegade

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Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign for Senate in Alaska is one of the more interesting races out there. Like Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist, Murkowski lost (or, in the cases of the others, faced the prospect of losing) a primary and decided not to go gently into that good night.

I actually have a procedural problem with a candidate going through a primary, where both candidates are putatively bound to support the winner in the general election, and then breaking that implicit pledge when it doesn't go her way. But the more interesting question, raised by her attacks on GOP nominee Joe Miller from the left, is what kind of Senator does Murkowski want to be? Is she a moderate who had been pulled to the right by her caucus, and is now free to pursue the centrist agenda she always wanted? Or an orthodox Republican who is painting her opponent as an extremist as a pure political tactic?

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