A Quid Pro Quo We Can Get Behind: Trump Endorses GOP Gov, Provided He Disowns Senate's Biggest RINO


Remember back in the halcyon days of 2019 when the Democrats impeached then-President Donald Trump over the dubious claim he offered the president of Ukraine a quid pro quo in which military funding would be exchanged for an investigation of Hunter Biden’s time with Burisma?

If that whole kerfuffle feels like it took place two decades ago, it’s probably because a) it was a (pardon the pun) trumped-up excuse for an impeachment and b) Joe Biden seems to have mentally aged two decades in just two years. Oh, and that pandemic thing, too. That might have had something to do with it.

Whatever the case, two years/decades later, Trump has offered a bona fide quid pro quo — and it’s one that we can get behind. Trump has offered his endorsement to incumbent Alaska GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy, something that usually wouldn’t make news anywhere in the lower 48. However, it comes with a very big string attached: If Dunleavy backs incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her 2022 re-election bid, that endorsement goes away posthaste.

For the rest of America, this is a big deal. RINOs as big as Murkowski are usually only spotted on safari — and yet, she’s managed to hold on in a solidly red state for years. (Here at The Western Journal, we’ve been big backers of dumping Murkowski for quite some time now — and we’ll continue to call out RINOs and establishment types, no matter who they are. You can help us bring voters the information they need about bad candidates by subscribing.)

“Mike Dunleavy has been a strong and consistent Conservative since his time in the Alaska State Senate,” Trump said in a Tuesday statement through his Save America PAC.

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“I was proud to endorse his first run for Governor, and I am proud to support his reelection, too. From his handling of the virus, support of the Constitution — including the Second and Tenth Amendments — taking advantage of all the opportunities Alaska has to offer, and his strong pushback against the Liberal Biden Administration’s attempt to hurt our great Country.”

“Alaska needs Mike Dunleavy as Governor now more than ever,” the statement continued. “He has my Complete and Total Endorsement but, this endorsement is subject to his non-endorsement of Senator Lisa Murkowski who has been very bad for Alaska, including losing [the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve], perhaps the most important drilling site in the world, and much else.

Can Alaska do better than Lisa Murkowski?

“In other words, if Mike endorses her, which is his prerogative, my endorsement of him is null and void, and of no further force or effect!”

The general media spin was that this was spite: Murkowski was one of the Republicans who crossed the aisle and voted to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. CNN reported this motive as if it were scientific fact, saying Trump had made her “a top target in next year’s midterm elections after the senator voted to convict him in his impeachment trial earlier this year.” Business Insider, meanwhile, said Trump had “vowed political revenge” against her for the vote.

While one can surmise the move didn’t exactly sit well with Trump, it’s not as if the vote sabotaged a long, dear friendship between two like-minded individuals. And it’s not like there aren’t plenty of Republicans who would rather someone more conservative would represent the state of Alaska. Among them: Alaska Republicans, who were fed up enough with Murkowski that she lost her own party’s primary in 2010 to Joe Miller. Ever the establishment favorite, however, she managed to win via write-in vote.

Without writing a term paper on why Murkowski’s compiled record from 19 years in the Senate has been indistinguishable from that of a wet-noodle Democrat, let’s keep things recent.

In September of 2020, after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Murkowski was one of the only Republicans who dithered about confirming a justice before the presidential election. (Ginsburg, the court’s foremost liberal, had asked for the confirmation process to be postponed until after the election for reasons a bit more craven than touching.)

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After former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin began floating the idea of a primary challenge against Murkowski and dared her to vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, Murkowski’s mind suddenly made itself up and she lent Barrett her support. Amazing, that.

Alas, Palin wasn’t around in 2018 during Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation process. In that case, Murkowski refused to vote yes, instead opting to vote “present.”

As for the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve, Murkowski openly praised legislation that opened ANWR up for oil and gas exploration during the Trump administration. The environmental impact was minimal, especially given it’s one of the most energy-rich areas in the United States.

“Alaskans can now look forward to our best opportunity to refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, thousands of jobs that will pay better wages, and potentially $60 billion in royalties for our state alone,” she said in a joint news release with fellow GOP Alaska Sen. Dan Collins.

Then, earlier this year, Murkowski voted for President Joe Biden’s interior secretary nominee, Deb Haaland — who promptly killed ANWR energy exploration.

But, hey, a RINO’s gotta do what a RINO’s gotta do. Like help the Democrats fast-track a debt-ceiling hike, which she did earlier this month. According to Alaska Public Media, she justified this by voting against the debt ceiling hike itself, but she was more than willing to help the Democrats along.

I could go on, but let’s just sum it up this way: By and large, Lisa Murkowski stands for two things: a) clubby establishment Beltway values and b) her own re-election. Which brings us to the great thing about Trump’s quid pro quo, since part b) is in doubt and Murkowski arguably needs Dunleavy’s support a lot more than Dunleavy needs to score points with Murkowski.

While it’s too early for reliable polling, Murkowski has a serious challenger in Kelly Tshibaka, a Trump-backed former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration with significant experience in federal government work. Tshibaka has made plenty of hay of late regarding Murkowski’s debt ceiling vote, saying it shows “that it’s the political elites pitted against real Americans,” according to The Washington Post.

Conservative group Maggie’s List has endorsed Tshibaka, according to Fox News, and the state GOP has all but disowned Murkowski; the Alaska Republican Party voted to censure her by a 53-17 margin in March, and former state party chairman Tuckerman Babcock said the vote “also directed the party officials to recruit an opponent in the election and to the extent legally permissible, prevent Lisa Murkowski from running as a Republican in any election.”

This is, in short, a lot different than Joe Miller’s surprise 2010 primary victory which Murkowski was able to overcome via write-in vote. This time, there’s an organized effort to ensure one of America’s most conservative states doesn’t have a giant RINO representing it.

And as for the quid pro quo? It seems to be working.

Andrew Jensen, a spokesman for Gov. Dunleavy, told KTUU-TV that the governor “doesn’t have time or the inclination to get involved in other races, and he definitely does not have time to get into any sort of conflict or create any space with President Trump,” Jensen said. “The governor and president had a great relationship, a lot of face time over the years.”

Just a guess, but I don’t think Lisa Murkowski is going to be getting much face time.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture