The mid-term elections were a fortnight ago, so it may come as a surprise that the results have not all been declared as yet. One Senate seat is yet to be decided – although the result is in little doubt – and that is in Sarah Palin’s home state of Alaska. And it’s not looking good for the “Tea Partiers”.
The seat had been held by Republican Lisa Murkowski, and she was looking to run again. Then came the primary and a challenge from Palin-backed Joe Miller. Miller won, and his name therefore went on the ballot as the GOP candidate. Murkowski, however, was not finished yet.
The incumbent Senator fought a “write-in” campaign: voters could pick the Democrat or Republican nominee, or they had the option of writing in an alternative choice when casting their ballot. The support for Murkowski can be gauged by the fact that she is now in the lead on votes counted, despite voters having to add her name to the ballot, rather than just pulling the lever for Miller.
At close of play yesterday, Murkowski was 10,400 votes ahead of Miller with just a few hundred to count, although Miller’s campaign is contesting more than 8,000 ballots because of misspellings. Moreover, the Miller camp is threatening a federal lawsuit, which gives the impression of desperation. He’s lost, and he knows it.
Suggesting electoral fraud, hinting at a demand for a recount, and resorting to law will not endear Miller to his electorate. Barring a minor miracle, Alaska looks to be about to return the first “write-in” Senate victory since 1954, with the “Tea Party” notching up another failure.
Now all the “Tea Party” needs is to get their pick onto the GOP ticket for the 2012 Presidential Election. That is unquestionably a race worth their losing.
[UPDATE: the Alaska GOP has now called the race for Murkowski and asked Miller to concede]