Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, a rival for her Senate seat in 2004, to put his money where his mouth is and come to Capitol Hill to lobby Senate Democrats to vote in favor of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He publicly has claimed he could drum up enough votes from Democrats to break the logjam over the controversial issue.

“Putting all politics aside, and in the spirit of non-partisanship and moving the state forward, I invite you to use the resources of my office in Washington, DC to convince as many Democrats as possible to change their minds on ANWR now. I will provide whatever resources you need, including computer and communications equipment to help secure the votes for Alaska,” she wrote in an Aug. 5 letter to Knowles.

“As you probably know we need as many as 12 [Senate] Democrats to change their minds if we hope to break their anti-Alaska filibuster on this issue, perhaps even more.”

Knowles, who plans to challenge Murkowski next year for the Alaska Senate seat, declined the offer, said Murkowski’s Chief of Staff Justin Stiefel. Murkowski currently is finishing out the term of her father, former Sen. Frank Murkowski, who succeeded Knowles as governor of Alaska.

The House energy bill supports opening part of the coastal plain of the Arctic refuge to oil and natural gas drilling, but ANWR development is noticeably absent from the Senate measure. The Senate Democats have threatened to filibuster the final bill if it contains ANWR. Senate Republicans estimate they will need the support of at least 12 Democrats to break a filibuster on the issue.

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