Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who lost a tight primary battle to Tea Party and Sarah Palin-backed candidate Joe Miller, announced in a statement Tuesday that she will announce on Friday whether she will enter the general election.
In the statement, Murkowski said she would not run as a Libertarian candidate, which means that if she does run it will be as a write-in candidate. In explaining her decision, Murkowski had some harsh words for the Tea Party Express, which backed Miller.
"...After meeting with the Libertarian candidate last week and considering that option, I cannot in good conscience seek the Libertarian nomination," she said. "As disappointed as I am in the outcome of the Primary and my belief that the Alaska Republican Party was hijacked by the Tea Party Express, an outside extremist group, I am not going to quit my party. I will not wrap myself in the flag of another political party for the sake of election at any cost."
Murkowski is a member of the Republican leadership in the Senate, and her criticism of one of the most prominent Tea Party groups comes amid increasing strain between the Tea Party and the GOP.
In the Delaware Republican Senate primary today, voters are choosing between Tea Party Express-backed Christine O'Donnell and moderate Rep. Mike Castle in what has turned out to be a surprisingly tight battle. Republicans have harshly criticized O'Donnell, who they suggest has little chance in the general election, and Castle has made a point, like Murkowski, of complaining of outside influence in the race.
Brian Montopoli is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.