From Erika Bolstad in Washington D.C. –
Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller on Thursday lashed out at Sen. Lisa Murkowski, criticizing her for being in Alaska campaigning while the Senate has been in session the past three weeks.
"Actions speak louder than words and this is just another example of Lisa saying one thing to Alaskan voters and actually doing another," Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto said. "Is she really 'fighting for Alaska?' It's hard to fight for the people of Alaska when you don't bother to show up."
Miller himself has been in Washington D.C. this week meeting high-ranking Republican officials and raising money at a series of fundraisers on Capitol Hill.
The Senate is now adjourned until after the Nov. 2 election, but Miller's campaign is correct: Since Congress returned Sept. 13 from its summer recess, Murkowski has only been present for one of the eight days there were Senate votes.
Murkowski returned to Washington D.C. from Alaska on Aug. 15, voted four times on Aug. 16, and then returned back to Alaska to make her announcement of a write-in bid on Aug. 17. She did not return to Washington D.C. after that, including for former Sen. Ted Stevens' burial this week in Arlington National Cemetery.
At the time she made her announcement, spokesman Steve Wackowski said she would decide on a "case-by-case basis" whether to return to Washington for particular votes or other business, and "Alaskans can expect to see her campaigning hard throughout the state."
The Senate's agenda was relatively limited and highly political in the weeks before senators adjourned to campaign, but Murkowski missed one key vote that may have been important to many Alaskans: the Sept. 21 vote on allowing a defense bill to come to the floor for a full vote. That bill included a measure that would have repealed the Don't Ask Don't Tell measure that prohibits openly gay military personnel from service.
Murkowski was the only senator to miss the vote -- although her presence wouldn't have changed the outcome or that of any of the other votes she missed. All of her fellow Republicans voted against the defense bill, which was four votes short of the 60 needed to move forward. Three Democrats and one Republican would have had to switch their "no" votes to "yes" for it to proceed.
Thursday, Wackowski had this reply to Miller: "Joe should spend more time getting his financial disclosure paperwork together rather than sending out trashy press releases and tweets," he said in an e-mail.
Wackowski was referring to questions about why Miller has yet to turn in a financial disclosure form, as well as a series of statements he made Wednesday night on the social networking website, Twitter. On Twitter, Miller suggested that while he was in Washington, he ought to do some house hunting, pick out office furniture and look for a name plaque. He later deleted the tweets and blamed them on a campaign volunteer.
Miller had a previous Twitter misstep earlier this month when his campaign posted a tweet that seemed to link Murkowski to prostitution: "What's the difference between selling out your party's values and the oldest profession?" That, too, was blamed on a campaign volunteer.
Democrat Scott McAdams didn't weigh in Thursday on Murkowski's absence from the Senate. But at the time of the defense vote, the Alaska Democratic Party did.
"Living in a state with great needs, Alaskans expect their senator to deliver for them, and today Sen. Murkowski put her personal agenda over Alaska’s interests and didn't even show up to work," Alaska Democratic Party Chairwoman Patti Higgins said at the time. "Ignoring the opportunity to create jobs, strengthen Alaska communities, and provide vital funding for Alaska's military members makes us ask if this senate race is about Lisa Murkowski or about Alaska."
McAdams did, however, have his own reply on Twitter to Miller's Wednesday night outburst: "While you're in DC picking out office furniture, I'm in Anchorage introducing my plan to get Alaskans back to work."