Sen. Lisa Murkowski might just keep her seat, but it’s going to be weeks before she knows for sure.
Murkowski (R-AK) is trailing upstart Republican and tea party favorite Joe Miller by 1,668 votes, with all the votes from Tuesday’s polling locations counted. But there are as many as 16,000 absentee ballots remaining. TPM’s Alaska sources say the outstanding ballots are from the bush and rural outposts in the state’s southeast region, where Murkowski has a stronghold of support.
State officials tell us the picture will get clearer when absentees that had to be postmarked by Tuesday get counted on Sept. 3, but the final vote won’t be known until Sept. 8. Until then, Murkowski will need to wait. And wait. The campaign has brought in a lawyer to keep her company, and may even deploy him should the result be thisclose.
But Alaskans are used to waiting.
On the eve of the Nov. 4 election in 2008, Sen. Ted Stevens (R) led Mark Begich (D) by 3,000 votes. It wasn’t until Nov. 18 — when 60,000 absentees had been counted — before Begich knew for certain that he’d actually beaten Stevens and was declared the winner.
Asked in an interview with The Swamp if they would consider giving Murkowski their party’s nomination, AIP chairwoman Lynette Clark said: “Absolutely not.”
What Murkowski can do, and there’s no real indications whether she would consider this or not, is run as a write-in candidate in November. A state spokeswoman from the department handling Alaska elections said anyone can file as a write-in once there’s been a state certification of the primary results. Write-ins must file at least five days before the general election. Alaska doesn’t allow for ballot stickers, so candidates must mount a real campaign to get voters to physically write down their name.