Murkowski to Declare Victory in Anchorage

Murkowski to Declare Victory in Anchorage

By Scott Conroy - November 17, 2010

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is set to claim an "historic" victory in her write-in reelection campaign against Joe Miller on Wednesday night in Anchorage, Murkowski's campaign manager told RealClearPolitics.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Associated Press declared Murkowski the winner, as she held a lead of about 10,000 votes, including 8,153 ballots that the Miller campaign unsuccessfully challenged, with only about 700 ballots remaining for Alaska election officials to count.

Murkowski was en route to Anchorage on Wednesday afternoon, where she was expected to declare victory at 6 p.m. Alaska Standard Time.

Murkowski officials said that they had not heard from the Miller campaign on Wednesday, and a Miller campaign spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment on whether Miller, who defeated Murkowski in the Republican primary in August, would concede the race.

"The unchallenged Lisa Murkowski votes will be more than he got, once all these votes are counted," Murkowski campaign manager Kevin Sweeney said. "So he's got to look at those numbers and decide what he's going to do."

The Miller camp has cited "irregularities" that it says occurred at polling stations on Election Day and during the write-in count. Miller has sued to compel Alaska election officials to hand over election registers signed by voters in precincts around the state, in order to check whether the numbers match up.

As late as Tuesday, the Miller campaign was still asking for financial contributions from supporters to "help us ensure a fair vote count."

The Murkowski camp has rejected the idea that the vote counting process has been anything but fair and transparent.

"They had an opportunity to challenge each and every vote, so this was as clear and open as it could possibly be," Sweeney said. "They're continuing to raise questions about the election itself, so I have no idea what they will do. They have maintained all throughout this process that when all of the votes are counted, if the numbers don't add up, it will be unreasonable to continue. I agree with them -- it will be unreasonable to continue, but whether or not they actually side on reason, we need to wait and see whether they actually do that."

Though Sweeney reiterated that Murkowski intends to remain a Republican and caucus with the minority party in the Senate, he said that he plans to meet with the senator for about an hour on Wednesday to plan how to answer questions about "what this means politically for her future."

Sweeney hinted that Murkowski -- who was first appointed to the Senate by her father, former Gov. Frank Murkowski, in 2002 -- may envision a revised role for herself in Washington, in light of her independent write-in victory.

"We honestly believe that what we did was historic," Sweeney said. "This hasn't happened before. Even when Strom Thurmond won in 1954, I'm not a historian, but I believe he had his party's backing. There hasn't been a situation that I know of where a write-in candidate went against both party-sponsored opponents and won."

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

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