ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Alaska Supreme Court (search) has ordered back on the ballot an initiative to change how the state fills temporary U.S. Senate vacancies. The initiative, which would repeal the governor's ability to make a temporary appointment, was thrown out earlier this year by Lt. Gov. Loren Leman (search), a Republican who oversees the state elections division.
Vacancies under the initiative would instead would be filled by special election, which could occur within 60 to 90 days.
The court ruled Friday that Leman should not have stricken the initiative from the ballot.
The decision comes days before Tuesday's primary elections, and the issue is expected to be a factor in the race.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (search) was appointed by her father, Frank Murkowski, in 2002 to fill the remainder of his Senate term when he was elected governor. She faces three Republican challengers in the primary.
State Democratic Rep. Eric Croft, one of the sponsors of the initiative, said both Lisa and Frank Murkowski have done everything they could to keep the initiative off the November ballot, where some members of the Republican Party fear it would have the potential to remind voters of the nepotism issue.
"This isn't about Lisa or Frank to me," Croft said. "This is about how we select our U.S. senators."
Elliott Bundy, Lisa Murkowski's spokesman, said Friday that Murkowski had no comment on the ruling. "The campaign is focused on the primary on Tuesday," Bundy said.
Frank Murkowski spokeswoman Becky Hultberg said the governor's office had no comment.