ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The last time Sen. Lisa Murkowski was in Washington, D.C., she hadn't declared victory and the ballot count was still being tallied -- but just a few days later, the playing field has changed.
Murkowski feels the election is over, and it seems fellow colleagues and Republicans agree. She says everything seems back to normal in Washington, D.C. The only lingering question is: how did she pull off her write-in win?
“There were some that were perhaps a little more cautious in their encouragement, but what all of them mention was the great respect they had for what I had undertaken,” Murkowski said.
Murkowski was in D.C. Monday and Tuesday for a Republican luncheon, where she was welcomed warmly by colleagues who told her to throw in the towel just two months earlier, when Miller beat her in the Republican primary.
While Murkowski has said she's found out who her friends are during this election, Sen. Mark Begich says it’s too soon to tell whether her win will make her a different kind of politician.
“I know there is kind of a mixed bag in her caucus to their support or lack of support that they gave her,” Begich said. “So I think that's a harder issue to quantify until she comes back, and she puts herself in the work mode.”
NBC political analyst Domenico Montanaro expects Murkowski to exercise a little more independence during her next term, but he says the Senate is glad to have her back -- with the possible exception of South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who strongly backed Miller during the campaign.
“Back in D.C., there are a lot of Republicans who are really pleased that she was able to win, because for a lot of the establishment folks -- and that's the majority of the Republicans who are here -- they were nervous and upset that she lost the first time, and really wise that she had won the first time,” Montanaro said.
The Republicans held their leadership elections Wednesday, meaning Murkowski won't be back in a party leadership role. But she says she's focused now on the Energy Committee and getting back to work after the holiday.
Murkowski says DeMint sent her a text message congratulating her on her win. She says everyone is going to have to work together again, and expects the election won't come between them and getting the job done.
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