Party of principles or party of Trump: Murkowski says Republicans must choose

A woman in a mask speaks in an official room
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks to reporters during her annual visit to the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau, on Feb. 16, 2021. (Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO and Alaska Public Media)

During her annual trip to the Alaska State Capitol, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the Republican Party has to decide whether it is the party of one man — former President Donald Trump — or of principles.

“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,” she said. “Right now, I think we’re still trying to figure out who we are.”

Murkowski acknowledged that while the Alaska Republican Party may censure her for voting to convict Trump over inciting the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, she put her obligation to support the Constitution first. 

Due to COVID-19 and the delayed organization of the Alaska House, Murkowski didn’t give her annual address to a joint session of the Legislature as usual. She met with small groups of lawmakers and answered questions from news reporters. 

Murkowski said it would be a challenge for her if the Republicans became the party of Trump, but she would never switch to another party. 

“There is no way that I would go to the Democrats,” she said. “I’m not a Democrat. And so I continue to be a Republican, but I am not a Trump Republican.”

Murkowski also said states must ensure elections are secure, and emphasized they shouldn’t inhibit voter participation. 

“We should be doing everything we can to make voting easier for everybody,” she said. “Not easier for Republicans, not easier for Democrats, not easier for this minority or that. Everybody. And so when we put limitations in place, either intentionally or unintentionally, that’s not who we are. We want the participation.”

Murkowski declined to announce whether she’s running for re-election next year, but suggested a campaign launch was in her future.