Alaska Tea Partier Joe Miller will not seek to prevent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski from being seated in the new Senate—though he still promised to not give up his challenge to the state’s count of write-in votes. Previously, a federal judge had issued a stay preventing the state from certifying Murkowski’s victory; Miller has said he does not oppose the lifting of the stay, which would prevent her from taking her seat on January 5. The judge has indicated he’ll lift the stay.
For all his success in helping elect ultraconservatives to the Senate, Sen. Jim DeMint now must face the difficult consequences of one spectacular, all but certain failure.
Even as DeMint says he would welcome fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski back to the Senate, the South Carolinian is still urging conservative activists around the country to donate money to replace the Alaskan incumbent with tea party favorite Joe Miller.
DeMint, who raised $5.6 million for ultraconservative GOP candidates this year, has attached a personal appeal letter to a CONTRIBUTE banner and a photo of Miller at the top of http://www.senateconservatives.com , the Web site of his Senate Conservatives Fund.
“Joe Miller can win this race, but he’s up against a well-financed legal team that is working for Lisa Murkowski,” DeMint writes. “They will be fighting to bend the law in Alaska, which requires write-in ballots to accurately state the candidate’s name.”
Before a federal judge Friday temporarily froze the final outcome, Murkowski appeared to have won a historic write-in campaign against Miller in the Nov. 2 general election, overcoming DeMint’s contribution of more than $627,000 to Miller.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline suspended Murkowski’s certification as winner provided that Miller demands a recount in state court by Monday, a step he was prepared to take despite the long odds of overtaking Murkowski’s lead of about 2,000 votes.
Miller won Alaska’s Aug. 25 Senate Republican primary, prompting Murkowski to launch her write-in effort – and setting off a bitter, drawn-out exchange of actions and words with DeMint that may not end any time soon.
Murkowski has responded coolly to DeMint’s recent peace signals.
“He has suggested that he’s got some making up to do,” Murkowski told CNN on Nov. 12. “I’ll let him make the first move.”
Beyond its political intrigue, the DeMint-Murkowski tussle reveals the deeper ideological struggle within the Republican Party between hard-liners unwilling to bend their principles and moderates who say governing requires compromise.
DeMint’s badly damaged relationship with Murkowski also shows the tightrope he’s treading as he tries to remake the Senate in his ultraconservative image from inside the august chamber while backing anti-establishment rabble-rousers on the outside.
An Alaska federal judge ruled Friday that Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller’s challenge to the counting of write-in ballots raises “serious” legal issues but is a matter for a state, not federal, court to decide.
Yet in deferring to an Alaska state court for a final decision, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline said he would grant a temporary injunction to halt official certification of the Nov. 2 election – an action Miller is seeking – so long as Miller takes his case to the state court by Monday. Miller told The Associated Press late Friday that he intended to do so.
Beistline’s unusual action was intended to “ensure that these serious state law issues are resolved prior to certification of the election,” the ruling said.
Miller sued in federal court in a bid to stop the state from using discretion in determining voter intent on write-in ballots cast for his election rival, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who declared victory in the race Wednesday. She mounted the write-in campaign after losing to Miller in the GOP primary.
State law calls for write-in ballots to have the oval filled in and the candidate’s last name or name as it appears on their declaration of candidacy written.
But the state pointed to case law in counting Murkowski ballots that contain misspellings or were phonetic to her name. Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees elections, has defended the practice, saying the state doesn’t want to disenfranchise any voters.
Miller wants the law adhered to strictly, and asked Beistline to keep the state from certifying the election results based on a count of ballots that aren’t in line with it. The target date for certifying the race is Nov. 29. A recount can then be requested by Dec. 4.
Beistline said a state court is in “the best position, at least initially, to apply Alaska law and to determine who won this election.”
But he also said he’d “remain available to review any constitutional issues that may exist once the state remedies have been exhausted.”
- Judge: Alaska court must decide Senate dispute (msnbc.msn.com)
- Alaska Judge To Halt Murkowski Certification? (riehlworldview.com)
- Joe Miller tries to stop Senate election certification (seattlepi.com)
- Judge: State court must decide AK Senate dispute (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Joe Miller Seeks to Stop Election Certification (politics.usnews.com)
- Miller Sues to Prevent Alaska Vote Certification (foxnews.com)
- Joe Miller Files Suit To Prevent Certification Of Alaska Senate Results (outsidethebeltway.com)
Alaska Republican Joe Miller made clear on Thursday that he has no intention of conceding in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race despite rival candidate incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski being declared the winner of the drawn-out election earlier this week and calls mounting for the embattled contender to admit defeat.
The AP reports that a lawyer for Miller’s campaign is seeking an injunction from a federal judge to stop election officials in the Last Frontier from certifying Murkowski’s victory. The challenge comes as the latest in a string of legal challenges the the senator’s team has made against the validity of write-in ballots cast for Murkowski, whom he defeated earlier this year in the state’s GOP primary.
Miller’s lawsuit claims Alaska law requires voters to write in a candidate’s name as it appears on a declaration of candidacy, or the last name of the candidate, to cast valid ballots. His campaign filed the lawsuit last week as hand counting of write-in ballots began. … Anchorage U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline denied his request to immediately stop the state Division of Elections from counting write-in ballots that strayed from the exact spelling of a candidate’s name.On Monday, state officials filed a formal brief in opposition to the lawsuit. Thursday was the deadline for Miller to reply.
Attorney Tom Van Flein said in his filing Thursday that Miller was revising his injunction request because the Division of Elections has nearly finished its vote count.
He asked the court to stop elections officials from accepting as valid any write-in votes in which a candidate’s name was misspelled or was not written on the ballot as it appeared on the candidate’s write-in declaration of candidacy.
- Lisa Murkowski: “Alaskans Have Spoken” (cbsnews.com)
- “Lisa Murkowski wins rare write-in victory in Alaska Senate race” and related posts (personalmoneystore.com)
- AP calls Alaska Senate race for Lisa Murkowski – Joe Miller disagrees – Christian Science Monitor (news.google.com)
- Alaska’s Murkowski poised for Senate write-in win (reuters.com)