Senator balks at talk about Palin as rival

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has indicated she's open to a presidential run in 2012, but her spokesman said Wednesday she has never stated she would first seek the Senate seat held by fellow Republican Lisa Murkowski.

"I have never heard it come up. More than that, I'm unaware of why we're even talking about this," spokesman Bill McAllister said.

He was referring to comments made by Murkowski that Palin would have a hard campaign beating her, an incumbent with rising seniority in the Senate.

"I can guarantee it would be a very tough election," Murkowski said in an interview published this week on Politico.com.

Murkowski was appointed in 2002 by her father, Frank Murkowski, who held the Senate seat for more than two decades before he was elected governor. She will become Alaska's senior senator after the recent loss by Ted Stevens, the Senate's longest serving Republican ever.

Palin could run for a second term in 2010. But that's also when Lisa Murkowski is up for re-election for a seat with potentially more national exposure for Palin.

Mike Brumas, a spokesman for Murkowski, told The Associated Press on Wednesday the senator has nothing more to say on the matter.

Murkowski told Politico that a senate race would be risky for Palin. A loss could hurt a presidential run while a win would erase any seniority by Alaskans in the Senate - and Palin would have to launch her presidential bid right away.

"If she wants to be president, I don't think the way to the presidency is a short stop in the United States Senate," Murkowski said.

Murkowski told Politico that she had not spoken with Palin about whether she will run and said the topic might be "more media-generated than what actually might be the thought process in Juneau right now."



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