The knives were out for Jim DeMint in the Senate last week, as Republicans laid into the South Carolina senator for supporting Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell over Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican primary and endangering the GOP's chances of taking control of the Senate in November.
Wonder if Sen. Lisa Murkowski will get the same treatment this week?
The Alaska senator lost the Republican primary to her Tea Party-backed challenger, Joe Miller, in a fair fight. But instead of graciously conceding and endorsing the Republican nominee, Murkowski announced Friday that she will continue her campaign as an independent write-in candidate. Polls showed Miller -- a West Point grad with a Bronze Star and a Yale law degree -- leading Democrat Scott McAdams by six to eight points. Now Murkowski has thrown the race into disarray. Where is the outcry at Murkowski for putting a Republican seat -- and the Republican majority -- at risk?
GOP leader Mitch McConnell -- who helped to engineer Murkowski's rise to the Republican leadership table -- has accepted her resignation from her post as vice chairwoman of the Republican Conference. But Murkowski has not been required to give up her position as the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee -- a perch she will no doubt use as evidence she can deliver for Alaska. Will McConnell strip her of this role, too -- and make clear to Alaska voters that Murkowski will not enjoy the privileges of her GOP seniority if she is elected as an independent in November?
McConnell and other GOP leaders threw down the gauntlet to DeMint last week, telling him it was his responsibility to make sure that O'Donnell won in Delaware. DeMint responded with a "money bomb" -- raising, at this writing, more than $214,000 for O'Donnell in a just a few days, with a target of $348,000 by the end of this week. Will McConnell and the GOP leadership produce a "money bomb" for Joe Miller? If delivering Delaware is DeMint's responsibility, then delivering Alaska just became McConnell's responsibility.
... and Jim DeMint's courage, and Lisa Murkowski's betrayal.