FAIRBANKS — Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski forgot to ask Tuckerman Babcock, the head of the Republican Party, for his instructions on how she should vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
And just like that, Babcock declares Murkowski an enemy of the GOP blabbing class in Alaska.
Babcock and other GOP functionaries now believe they need to punish Murkowski for doing what Alaskans elected her to do — exercising her judgment on contentious issues.
There is no room for disagreement in Chairman Tuckerman’s realm and he promises a “very significant response” by the central committee.
A year ago, he attacked her for disagreeing with him on a health care vote. All this from the guy who told a newspaper reporter two years ago that, “we are definitely the party of fierce-minded individuals.”
Fierce in demanding party loyalty is more like it.
This is reminiscent of the Republican attacks on Murkowski in 2010, when the party was led by Randy Ruedrich, and Murkowski challenged Joe Miller in a successful write-in campaign.
The party claimed Murkowski “turned her back” on Alaska and cared more about “Wall Street fat cats” than the folks back home.
“Lisa Murkowski’s big spending record might fit in D.C., but it’s a long way from Alaska,” the Alaska Republican Party said in one of its attacks.
The overheated response this time by Babcock tells Alaskans that he was not telling the truth in the form letter he signed trying to round up Republican absentee votes for the Nov. 6 election.
Republicans “are a feisty bunch” and “we do not agree on every issue,” according to his plea that accompanied a ballot application.
“We welcome debate, discussion and all those who are ready to ‘walk away’ from the politics of division, identity politics, hate and blame,” the chairman boasted.
Speaking of the politics of division, Babcock’s letter is accompanied by dishonest instructions to force potential voters to declare themselves a member of a political party if they want an absentee ballot.
“You must provide a party affiliation in Block 9,” the Republican Party said, hoping that lots of respondents will affiliate with the GOP.
This instruction is false.
If the tiny and ineffective Alaska Public Offices Commission had the staff it needs to serve as a political watchdog, it would not let the party get away with this.
The space on Block 9 in the application calls for providing a “political affiliation,” which is not the same as a party affiliation. Chairman Babcock knows this.
His party did not include the ballot application instructions from the state that list the 15 “political affiliation choices in Alaska.”
These choices include the major parties along with political groups such as the UCES Clowns Party, the Twelve Visions Party of Alaska, the Moderate Party of Alaska and the Veterans Party of Alaska. Missing from the list is the 15th choice — the Owl Party, which has no members but is recognized as a political group.
What Babcock concealed is that those who seek an absentee ballot are also free to list political affiliation with the two largest groups of voters in Alaska — those who are undeclared or nonpartisan.
There are about 570,000 registered voters in Alaska. Nearly 60 percent do not belong to a political party.
It’s no wonder why.
The Republican response to Murkowski’s vote reflects the commitment of party leaders, to borrow Babcock’s words, to the “politics of division, identity politics, hate and blame.”
Dermot Cole is a longtime Alaskan, an author of several history books and a former Daily News-Miner staff columnist. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.