JUNEAU — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she does not know if she will vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump this fall.
But the moderate Alaska Republican told The Associated Press she knows who she won’t vote for, and that’s Democrat Hillary Clinton. Murkowski is concerned that Clinton’s policy positions would be harmful to a resource-producing state like Alaska.
Murkowski said she has not endorsed Trump and will continue to speak out on issues where they disagree. She said that she has time to decide how she will vote in the November election.
“I’ve got a few months to listen, as other Americans are, to what is laid down in terms of policy, and we’ll figure it out,” she said Monday.
Another GOP moderate, Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, on Monday became the latest Republican to announce she would not vote for Trump. Unlike Collins, however, Murkowski is up for re-election this year.
Murkowski faces no major opposition in next week’s GOP primary. But at least two of her rivals, independent Margaret Stock and Democrat Edgar Blatchford, have called on Murkowski to take a stand against Trump.
Blatchford, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Murkowski in November, said it’s scary to think of Trump, “a guy who has a temper-tantrum problem,” in the White House.
“You just cannot vote in this election based on party discipline,” Blatchford said. “I think what you have to do is, you have to stand up and say, ‘This is the right thing for the country.’ “
Jim Lottsfeldt, a political strategist, said one of the criticisms Murkowski often gets is that she can be “a little too safe” in her approach. He thinks Murkowski will win re-election regardless of her stance on Trump. But he would like for her to be more open about her thoughts on Trump.
“She can speak her mind without paying a price for speaking her mind, and I think she should,” Lottsfeldt said Tuesday.
Murkowski was upset in her primary bid in 2010 by tea party favorite Joe Miller, but she came back to retain her seat with a successful general election write-in campaign.
Alaska’s junior U.S. senator, Dan Sullivan, was the only member of the state’s Republican congressional delegation to attend last month’s GOP national convention, in which Trump accepted the party’s presidential nomination.
Sullivan has said he intends to support Trump, but he has spoken out when he disagrees with Trump, most recently on Trump’s feud with a couple whose son, a U.S. Army officer, was killed in Iraq.
In that case, Murkowski said military families who lose loved ones in war deserve “unconditional love and support,” and Trump must honor and respect that.