Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton is drawing heat today for casting her lot with Lisa Murkowski, Alaska’s embattled Republican Senator. Murkowski is under attack this election year by the Sarah Palin tea party right for being a “pro-abortion tax and spender” who used to be considered a swing voter but who now seems to move further right every day.
In an interview with the Colorado Statesman posted Wednesday, Norton said she would choose Murkowski as her Senate mentor. “She has an incredible depth of understanding of the importance of the energy issues… She’s been, I think, a terrific spokesperson for her state.”
That’s right — Jane Norton wants Lisa Murkowski to be her mentor.
Tea party activists nationwide should take note of this. Norton has been angling for tea party support by trying to demonize Ken Buck. Now she’s admitting she wants one of the chief antagonists of the tea party movement to be her mentor.
Lisa Murkowski has even pivoted recently to now be opposed to cap-and-tax legislation, but only because now is not the time. In other words, she’s only opposed to it during her re-election bid.
In the Statesman interview Norton makes no bones about the fact that she will be a champion for “coal and oil and gas.” She said she will work to “rebuild” those industries. She also would seem likely to struggle at least at first to do any reaching across the aisle on behalf of Coloradans. In the interview she struggled to think of even one Democratic Senator she admired.
An excerpt from the wide-ranging interview conducted by former Colorado Independent contributor and now Statesman reporter Ernest Luning and Statesman editor Jody Hope Strogoff.
This is something we’ve asked everyone, including Andrew when he was here back in February. Each incoming senator — are you aware of the mentor program?
I’ve heard a bit about it.
Each incoming senator gets to pick one senator from each party, and they kind of serve as a guide and a mentor, learning the arcane ropes of the body. Michael Bennet picked (New York Democrat) Chuck Schumer and (Arizona Republican) John McCain and tells a lot of stories on the campaign trail about how that’s affected him. Apparently his kids have fallen in love with John McCain and can’t stand it when they’re arguing on television. If the Senate had the same composition as it does today, which two would you pick?
Well, on the Republican side, I’d pick Sen. Lisa Murkowski from Alaska. She has an incredible depth of understanding of the importance of the energy issues, which are of paramount importance to Colorado as well. She’s the ranking member on the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, so I think she would be a fabulous mentor. She’s been, I think, a terrific spokesperson for her state, so I would choose her.
On the Democrat side, let me think. (Long pause.) Let me think about it, let me think about it.
— Just curious if there’s Democrats that you admire in the Senate —
Lieberman would be an Independent, that wouldn’t count. But he’s done some —
He caucuses with the Democrats, so he counts.
I very much appreciate his advocacy around the Israel question and he’s done some great work around mental health issues. So I believe that I’d choose him, if you’ll let me do that.
Have you thought about what committees you would like to serve on?
I have, I have. I believe Energy and Natural Resources would be a huge committee for Colorado, one that we need extensive work in to help rebuild our coal, our oil, our gas industry, to help with wind, solar and an all-of-the-above approach, including nuclear and other renewables. I’ve also thought about the Select Intelligence Committee because it’s important to our aerospace companies.