Murkowski, Miller set for drawn-out battle

November 4, 2010

By Becky Bohrer-Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski began a drawn-out battle Wednesday for every ballot with her handwritten name, as her long-shot attempt to come back from a primary defeat forced Alaskans to choose between Sarah Palin’s tea party and the state’s long-time GOP establishment.

Write-in votes represented 41 percent of the vote with 99 percent of precincts reporting. GOP nominee Joe Miller had 34 percent; Democrat Scott McAdams, who all but conceded Tuesday night, had 24 percent.

While Mrs. Murkowski celebrated the fact that she was still in the race, it remained to be seen whether the write-in votes would end up keeping her in office. Conservatives encouraged Alaskans to qualify as write-in candidates to disrupt her campaign, causing the field to balloon to 160, and Mrs. Murkowski launched an offensive to make sure her write-in votes were done correctly and wouldn’t be thrown out.

Robert Campbell, Mr. Miller’s campaign manager, cautioned that Mrs. Murkowski can’t count on every write-in vote.

“I’m sure there’s probably going to be two or three dozen votes for Spiderman,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell said Wednesday write-in votes for Mr. Miller won’t count because Mr. Miller’s name isn’t on the official list of write-in candidates

If Mrs. Murkowski is successful, it would be historic. No U.S. Senate candidate has won as a write-in since Strom Thurmond did it in 1954.

A final ruling could take weeks. The latest tally didn’t include thousands of absentee ballots that election officials don’t plan to begin counting until Tuesday. The director of the Division of Elections has said Nov. 18 is the target to start counting names on write-in ballots, but the lieutenant governor, who oversees elections, hopes that process can begin sooner, perhaps within days.

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