Appointed to the U.S. Senate in January 2003 by her father, Frank Murkowski, after he became governor, the younger Murkowski was hurt by allegations the decision was based on nepotism, several statewide surveys indicate. Some analysts said the concerns could split the Alaska GOP once again and hand the election to Knowles, the state's two-term governor.
Now that Murkowski has won renomination, defeating former Alaska Senate President Mike Miller in the GOP primary, fears of a split have subsided, leaving Alaska Republicans unified and focused on the need to keep control of the U.S. Senate, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner said Monday.
"The discussion is who is better in D.C., Lisa or Tony," Miller said. "Especially if Tony's election swings the control of the U.S. Senate to the national Democratic Party, which in my opinion, has a very un-Alaska agenda."
Knowles has said he would cross party lines to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling -- the central issue in the Senate race -- but Murkowski questions the political reality of Knowles, who won his two terms as governor because the GOP was badly divided, being able to do so.