WASHINGTON — Once again, Lisa Murkowski was all alone.

Eight years ago, Republican leaders abandoned the Alaska senator after she lost to a tea party primary challenger.

On Saturday, some 20 hours after delivering an anguished speech to a nearly empty Senate chamber, she etched her place in history as the only Republican senator to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

She also became the target of sharp criticism from President Trump, who predicted in a brief telephone interview Saturday that she would “never recover” from her vote and never be forgiven by the people of her state.

As the rest of her party celebrated Kavanaugh’s ascent to the nation’s highest court after a tumultuous nomination jolted by allegations of sexual misconduct, Murkowski reflected on what she said was a wrenching decision that had kept her from eating and sleeping well.

“Painful,” she said late Friday, describing her choice, which she attributed to concerns about Kavanaugh’s temperament when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the allegations last week.

After the vote Saturday, she voiced hope that Kavanaugh would work “to restore or build that public confidence.”

Republicans confirmed Kavanaugh without Murkowski’s help, thanks to the support of her close friend and fellow centrist, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

As one of just two Republican women in the Senate who favor abortion rights – Collins is the other – and an opponent of the Republican push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last year, Murkowski was seen as one of a handful of senators who could vote either way on Kavanaugh, even before the allegations against him emerged publicly in September.

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