AP Exclusive: Murkowski says she's not a quitter

Posted: Wednesday, September 08, 2010

JUNEAU - A week after conceding the tight GOP primary to Joe Miller, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she's not a quitter and is "still in this game."

Murkowski told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she's been inundated with calls and e-mails from supporters and overwhelmed by people just coming up to her, asking her not to leave the race. She said she had been ready to consider her future outside the Senate on Aug. 31, when she conceded, but has been humbled by the outpouring from Alaskans and is listening and weighing her options.

She said that if this was "all about Lisa, certainly the easy thing for me to do would be to figure out what my next opportunity would be with my family and just settle in to a nice job."

"But what I'm looking at is my state and the future of my state for my kids. So, I have not made that determination that I'm going to give up. I'm not a quitter, never have been. And I'm still in this game," Murkowski said.

She met briefly Tuesday with the Libertarian candidate David Haase after friends of hers - without her direction, she said - approached his party, asking if the Libertarians would consider a Murkowski candidacy. She said she was prepared to meet with those friends Tuesday but was told that Haase and party Chairman Scott Kohlhaas also were invited. She said she was not "prepared nor interested" in talking with the Libertarian board, which she said Kohlhaas represents. However, she indicated she'd be willing to listen to what Haase had to say "but that's the extent of my interest at this point in time."

While the Libertarians are welcome to look at her record, during eight years in the Senate and, before that, in the state Legislature, "I will not change who I am for any party," she said. "You take me or leave me, because I am who I am."

A party's candidate would have to withdraw by Sept. 15 so someone else could run on the November election. Haase hasn't committed to that, and there are no guarantees the Libertarians would pick Murkowski. Party leaders earlier voted against putting her on the ballot. Kohlhaas said the party has tried to stay open to having a dialogue but he described the odds of her appearing on the ballot as seemingly impossible.

Besides a third-party run, Murkowski also could seek a write-in candidacy, which she called high risk. Or, she could decide to stay out of the race.

She gave no timetable for a decision but acknowledged one needs to be made soon. She has until five days before the general election to decide on a write-in run. She said she's listening to Alaskans and giving "considered thought."

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