A moderate Democrat senator said he would endorse his GOP Senate colleague, who often breaks from her party on key issues, on Thursday during an interview with Politico’s “Playbook Deep Dive” podcast. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he would endorse GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for reelection, “in a heartbeat.” Murkowski responded that she would “welcome his endorsement.”
“I’ve met a lot of good people in Alaska, they know when they’ve got the real deal. And they see the person that basically is bringing both sides together, trying to look for the best interest,” Manchin said. “People understand they have a person that understands Alaska and has Alaska in her blood and in every part of her veins and every morsel of her body,” he added.
Manchin and Murkowski have both supported legislation and issues that went against the trends in their parties.
Manchin has spoken out against Democrats’ going-it-alone attitude, with his party’s call to end the Senate filibuster—a Senate rule that requires a minimum of 60 votes to pass most bills. The West Virginia senator has criticized President Joe Biden’s canceling of the Keystone XL pipeline project, and he does not back D.C. statehood.
Murkowski was one of seven senators in her party to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol. She stood with Democrats to keep the Affordable Care Act during the Trump administration and recently was the only Republican to vote in favor of Biden’s Justice Dept. nominee, Vanita Gupta.
The Alaskan senator is seeking her fourth term in 2022, but she will face opposition from within her own party. Former President Donald Trump has vowed to campaign against Murkowski on her home turf.
“Great news for the Republican Party! Senator Lisa Murkowski said she is ‘still weighing whether she will run again for the Senate in Alaska.’ In other words, there is a chance that she won’t run! Wouldn’t that be great?” Trump said in a statement issued via his Save America political action committee.
Murkowski told reporters recently that she is still considering whether to run for reelection. She didn’t provide a timeline for when she will make the final decision.
“I have been doing everything that a good incumbent does in terms of preserving my options, visiting with Alaskans, spending a lot of time, as much time on the ground as I can, and raising money,” Murkowski said, according to Roll Call.
Two Republicans have announced their intention to challenge Murkowski: Kelly Tshibaka, the former commissioner of the state’s Department of Administration, and Bob Lochner, a mechanic who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016.
Meanwhile, Manchin faces his own challenges from Democrats who think he is not progressive enough and is obstructing their legislative agenda.
Founders of the progressive political action committee (PAC) Justice Democrats, which helped elect social-democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), launched a new progressive PAC called “No Excuses,” in Feb., to raise money for candidates to challenge incumbent Democrats who they think are too conservative for the Democratic Party.
In an email to supporters, left-wing strategist and former Ocasio-Cortez aide Corbin Trent wrote, “Now we are launching a new campaign to replace conservative Democrats in the Senate who stand in the way of progress. It’s called No Excuses, and we need your help immediately to run ads telling Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema that they will be primaried and replaced in 2024 if they join with Republicans to shrink their own party’s pandemic, climate, and economic plans.”
Despite the many challenges, Murkowski and Manchin say they feel a sense of responsibility to change what isn’t working in the Senate. They both suggested more lawmakers should cultivate friendships and Murkowski praised her friend from the opposing party saying, “You’ve got somebody like Joe, who is motivated to do what he does for the right reasons and I think that’s because he looks at his children and his grandchildren and thinks about their future.”