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Murkowski says she can't fear fallout for impeachment vote

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Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks to reporters during a visit to the state Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. Murkowski said she knows there could be political consequences for her vote to convict former President Donald Trump during his recent impeachment trial but says she can't be afraid of that. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

JUNEAU, Alaska – Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday she knows her vote to convict former President Donald Trump during his recent Senate impeachment trial could have political consequences, “but I can't be afraid of that.”

If the people of Alaska decide that “because I did not support my party that I can no longer serve them in the United States Senate, then so be it," Murkowski told reporters during a visit to the state Capitol.

She also said that if the state Republican Party decides to censure her for her vote, “they can make that statement. But I will make the statement, again, that my obligation is to support the Constitution that I have pledged to uphold, and I will do that, even if it means that I have to oppose the direction of my state party.”

The Alaska Republican Party State Central Committee earlier this month passed a resolution opposing the Senate impeachment trial as “moot” and opposing a conviction. Glenn Clary, the party chairman, did not respond to messages Tuesday, including whether the party is considering a censure of Murkowski.

Murkowski was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump, who was acquitted of the sole charge of incitement of insurrection related to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Other Republicans who voted to convict Trump, including Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, have been censured by party officials in their states.

Murkowski faces reelection next year. When asked if she planned to run, Murkowski said she is “doing what I should be doing to ensure that I have that option and that opportunity to run for yet another term.” She said she is “absolutely leaving the avenues open for my reelection opportunities."

Murkowski lost her 2010 primary but went on to win the general election with a write-in campaign. Alaska voters in November approved an initiative that would do away with party primaries and implement ranked-choice voting for general elections. Under the initiative, primary candidates would appear on one ballot, with the top four vote getters advancing to the general election.

Murkowski said she has a record of being independent and bucking her party and that passage of the initiative hasn't “all of a sudden freed me up to be somebody bolder or stronger or more aggressive. Absolutely, absolutely not."

She said the Republican Party “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, solid principles, then that's a challenge — certainly a challenge for me.”

She said she continues to be a Republican but not a “Trump Republican.”