Alaska Libertarians Quash Third-Party Option

Alaska Libertarians Quash Third-Party Option

By Scott Conroy - August 30, 2010

One of the remaining threads in Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski's political lifeline was severed on Sunday when the five-member executive committee for the Alaska Libertarian Party voted unanimously not to consider putting her on their party's ticket in the general election against Democratic nominee Scott McAdams.

The Libertarians' decision means that Murkowski must now either come from behind to make up in absentee and questioned ballots the 1,668-vote deficit she faces against Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller, mount a general election write-in campaign, or request a recount.

When Murkowski found herself in the unexpected position of trailing Miller after Tuesday's vote, Libertarian nominee Frederick "David" Haase, indicated that he might be open to striking a deal with the incumbent senator that would allow her to run in the general election as a Libertarian -- the only way her name could appear on the ballot -- should she fall short in the final count against Miller.

Eric Dondero, the state House campaign manager for Alaska Libertarian Party Chairman Scott Kolhaas, said that Haase' initial indication that he was open to the Murkowski plan was "a bit of an embarrassment" to the party.

"David is really into the issue of the Federal Reserve and abolishing the income tax, and I think he saw it as an opportunity to talk to Lisa about the items on his agenda," Dondero said.

Dondero added that Haase eventually soured on the idea of allowing Murkowski to replace him on the ballot and said that the state Libertarians did not take offense to a tweet from Miller's Twitter account that compared them to prostitutes for considering the prospect.

"The funny thing is, we giggled our asses off about it," Dondero said after emphasizing that the tweet was indeed directed at them, not Murkowski. "We didn't take offense to it at all. Calling a libertarian a prostitute doesn't faze us."

Although a Murkowski source told a reporter that they were exploring the idea of mounting a third-party run, the Murkowski campaign emphasizes that they never reached out to the Libertarians to discuss the prospect.

"Last Wednesday morning after Election Day, the senator had her senior staff assemble, and we all agreed we're not going to consider that," Murkowski spokesperson Steve Wackowski said. "We all agreed it would be solely best to focus on Tuesday's vote count."

Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said that she had received over 25,000 absentee and questioned ballots as of Sunday night, most of which were expected to have been cast in the Republican primary.

On Tuesday, the state will conduct by optical scan units the first of three scheduled counts of the ballots that have been received and reviewed. The Division of Elections has not yet decided whether it will post the results periodically as they come in throughout the day on Tuesday, or all at once at the end of the count.

After the last of three counts of outstanding ballots on Sept. 8, Fenumiai anticipates certifying the official results on Sept. 17.

When the results are certified, either the defeated candidate or ten qualified voters can request a recount within five days. The recount would also be conducted by optical scan units.

Asked about the possibility that a recount might go forward after the results are certified, Wackowski from the Murkowski campaign told RealClearPolitics, "We've taken a look at it."

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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