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Joe Miller to Keep Fighting in Federal Court

Joe Miller to Keep Fighting in Federal Court

By Scott Conroy - December 27, 2010

Republican Joe Miller said that he will not contest the official certification of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in victory but will continue to press ahead with a federal lawsuit that challenges the results and seeks a full recount.

On Wednesday, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that confirmed Murkowski's general election win over Miller by 10,328 votes. Miller defeated Murkowski in the August Republican primary before the incumbent launched a write-in campaign to keep her seat.

A federal judge ruled last month that the state court system was the appropriate initial venue for Miller to contest the results. Now that the Alaska appeals process has been exhausted, Miller said in a statement late Sunday that he felt it important to have the results certified, in spite of his vow to continue to fight in federal court, so that Alaska would have full representation at the start of 112th Congress on Jan. 5.

"This decision will allow Alaskans to focus on bringing fairness and transparency to our elections process without distraction of the certification issue," Miller said. "We want the end result of this legal action to be for the people of Alaska to not only have full faith in the outcome of this race, but a confidence in the manner in which elections will be conducted in our state in the future. Election integrity is vital."

Miller is asking for donations to continue his federal challenge, which claims that state election officials ignored written law and subjectively awarded imperfectly written ballots to Murkowski, raises questions about possible violations of the Constitution's equal protection clause, accuses officials of counting ballots that were cast by registered felons, and raises other allegations of voter fraud.

Even if all of the ballots that were challenged by Miller observers but awarded to Murkowski were to be discounted, Murkowski would still lead by over 2,000 votes.

The Murkowski campaign and other Alaska political figures have questioned the wisdom behind Miller's decision to keep fighting in court, suggesting that he is waging a quixotic battle which could undermine the reputation of the tea party-backed Fairbanks attorney who pulled off what was perhaps the biggest primary upset of the 2010 campaign.

Despite several public relations setbacks in the general election, Miller's strong primary campaign has helped propel him to the top of a short list of Alaska Republicans who could mount a credible challenge to Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in 2014.

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

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