It was widely assumed that Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski would be booted from her position as ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at Wednesday's caucus meeting. After all, she had been unceremoniously ousted from her role as vice chairman of the Senate Republican conference last week, shortly after announcing her intention to run as a write-in candidate against Joe Miller, the tea partier who beat her in last month's primary. So far, her colleagues in the Senate have not been particularly nice about the whole affair. But it looks like Murkowski will get to hold her powerful seat on the committee for now.
While Senate Republicans unanimously agreed to tap John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) as the next vice chairman of the caucus, they did not make a decision about her committee role, reports The Hill.
The piece makes it sound like they ran out of time to deal with Murkowski's post today, but the implications are important. Murkowski has been touting her seniority on the committee as something of value to the state. As the ranking member on that committee, she plays a major role in shaping legislation, working closely with Democratic chairman Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico on measures like last year's energy bill. She was also heavily courted as a potential vote for climate legislation, despite opposing most legislative efforts from Democrats on that front. Murkowski currently has a pretty big say in policies for her state—and the many oil and gas interests represented therein.
Needless to say, the Alaska race continues to be one to watch this year.