by Chris Bodenner
Weigel writes a post-mortem on Murkowski:
She voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008. In October 2009 she said she was "open" to compromise on cap-and-trade legislation if it expanded drilling and nuclear power. She had a moderate record on abortion, siding with liberals on some matters of federal funding for the procedure. And she occasionally spoke dismissively of Sarah Palin. Tell me if I'm missing something, but I think that's it. Just like Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Murkowski wasn't so much an unreliable vote, like Arlen Specter used to be, as a Republican in a safe seat who was too often approached for possible compromises by Democrats. And that was unacceptable.
You really have to admire the strategic chops of tea partyers in taking down Bennett and Murkowski. In both cases, they only had to convince a small number of partisans to oust their incumbents. In both cases, they could smooth the path to victory by adding new people to the electorate -- in Utah that meant getting tea partyers to become Republican delegates, and in Alaska it meant activating some unaffiliated voters who could vote in the GOP primary.
Steve Chapman reminds us how Murkowski got into office in the first place: "It was the first time ever that a governor had appointed his own child to the Senate, and it was not popular." No doubt that lingering resentment fueled the anti-establishment fervor that rallied to Joe Miller. You can't get much more insidery than bald nepotism.
Regardless, the Tea Party win is yet another omen for a Palin nomination in '12.