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Joe Miller Re-emerges: Good News for Alaska Dems?

Joe Miller Re-emerges: Good News for Alaska Dems?

By Scott Conroy - January 31, 2013

With a second run for the U.S. Senate likely on his horizon, Joe Miller would appear to be back.

In Alaska, however, the Tea Party stalwart never left.

Just a few months after his 2010 general election loss to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski -- who was on the ballot as a write-in candidate following her primary loss to Miller -- the defeated GOP nominee signaled his intention to remain an active political player in the state by forming a PAC, dubbed Restoring Liberty Alaska.

Then on Independence Day of last year, the West Point and Yale Law School graduate announced that he had revamped his former campaign website -- joemiller.us -- as a clearinghouse for opinion and news aimed at the hard-right supporters who nearly propelled him to Washington two years earlier.

In keeping with its publisher’s style, the website and supporting newsletter remain aggressively ideological and often incendiary. On Wednesday, for example, it featured a column by Alaska Family Council founder Dave Bronson titled “The Tyranny Before Us,” with an accompanying grainy photo of President Obama pointing his finger at the camera.

In the column, Bronson recalled asking a woman who grew up in Germany during the 1930s whether she saw similarities between the Third Reich and America today. (The question went unanswered.) He then observed that “Adolf Hitler was not always a tyrant” in that he “lifted his nation from the depths of a severe depression and the humiliation of defeat,” even as he “began to commit the unspeakable.”

“Do I believe President Obama has the capacity to be a tyrant?” Bronson wrote. “Most certainly.”

In case anyone missed the connection that Bronson was making, above the column were three hyperlinked keywords: “Hitler,” “Obama,” and “tyranny.”

JoeMiller.us is filled with similarly dire warnings about impending national catastrophes, as well as criticisms of the media and ideological foes, sprinkled with video and print contributions from Miller himself.

At first glance, the online endeavor bears the stamp of someone promoting a rigid ideology and staking out a presence on the right wing of the GOP, rather than serving as a vehicle for an aspiring national politician . . . who was previously defeated after being labeled an extremist.

But the Persian Gulf War veteran is operating under his own playbook, even as he seeks to broaden his reach in other ways: The National Review reported last week that Miller has huddled with key Republicans on Capitol Hill to express interest in mounting a 2014 Senate run.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich will be among the GOP’s top Senate targets next year, and the chance to challenge him is expected to generate interest among a slew of Alaska Republicans. Begich, after all, only narrowly defeated Republican Ted Stevens in 2008 -- a week after the late Alaska political icon was convicted on seven felony charges (which were later set aside following revelations of prosecutorial misconduct).

But if Miller were to win the 2014 GOP nomination, the Democrat may benefit from such opposition in a race that should be a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans.

After Miller’s surprise victory in the 2010 primary, his record and positions came under withering scrutiny in the Alaska press, but his hopes of victory in the general election may have been extinguished during a bizarre incident following a town-hall campaign event in Anchorage.

During the episode in question, a member of Miller’s private security entourage handcuffed an Alaska journalist to a chair when he attempted to question the candidate inside a public school. (The guards claimed he was trespassing; Alaska police freed him after arriving 30 minutes later.)

It recently emerged that the security guard who handcuffed the reporter, William Fulton, was at the time working undercover for the FBI on a case regarding an Alaska militia member -- a revelation that Miller called “troubling” in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. 

The Miller campaign sought to use the incident to its advantage, claiming liberal bias, but the incident elicited public outcry from across the ideological spectrum.

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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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