Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska claimed victory yesterday over Tea Party rival Joe Miller in her historic write-in bid to keep her U.S. Senate seat.
The Associated Press called the race for Murkowski yesterday after confirming that state officials had only about 700 votes left to count. At that point Murkowski had a lead of more than 10,000 votes.
“We made history, Alaskans made history,” Murkowski told supporters in Anchorage. Voters chose “the path of unity, the deliberative path, the common-sense path,” she said.
State election officials reported Nov. 16 that Murkowski had 92,715 undisputed write-in votes from the Nov. 2 election, plus an additional 8,153 that were counted in her favor over Miller’s challenges, for a total of 100,868 votes.
Miller, a businessman who defeated Murkowski for the Republican Senate nomination in the state’s Aug. 24 primary, had 90,468 votes, including 20 write-in ballots.
He has not yet conceded, and his campaign will be reviewing some precinct logs from throughout the state, according to a campaign press release issued yesterday. In the release, Miller’s spokesman, Randy DeSoto, cited “irregularities” that “give our campaign pause.”
First Since Thurmond
Murkowski, 53, is the first senator to prevail with write-in ballots since Strom Thurmond’s victory in South Carolina in 1954.
Miller, 43, was backed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. His representatives challenged a number of the write-in ballots for Murkowski as being misspelled or otherwise improperly cast, and he has filed a lawsuit over standards used by state election officials for deciding whether those votes are valid.
Murkowski’s father, Frank Murkowski, 77, left the Senate when he won the governor’s office in 2002 and named his daughter to replace him. Lisa Murkowski won a full term in 2004. She resigned as vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference after losing her race for renomination.
Kristin Jensen in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org.