Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) took the floor tonight in the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage to announce that she was not going to give up her Senate seat so easily. Instead, she plans to mount a write-in campaign to win re-election — a feat only ever successfully accomplished by Strom Thurmond in 1954.
“Come November,” she told supporters, “if you stand by me, I will stand by Alaska.” She promised supporters that, unlike in the primary, the gloves would be off. And, to prove it, in addition to the expected swings at Republican candidate Joe Miller, she took an open swipe at Sarah Palin — promising not to “quit on Alaska.”
She also told supporters, “Alaska is not fair game for outside extremists,” tweaking the Tea Party Express and its outreach efforts on behalf of Miller in the state.
Murkowski was defeated in the Republican primary in August by tea party candidate Joe Miller, who Murkowski subsequently refused to endorse. At the news that Murkowski would take up her campaign again, Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer expressed shock to CNN, saying “”She was fired by the people. The people were given a choice and they voted for somebody else.”
Palin told reporters after her speech in Des Moines, Iowa, “”It’s a futile effort on her part, it really is.” Palin added, “Joe Miller is the right person to lead the state and this country.”
Murkowski conducted a brief, and ultimately unsuccessful, flirtation with the Alaska Libertarian Party in the wake of her highly-publicized defeat to Joe Miller. Polls showed that, as a Libertarian, she could poll close to Republican candidate Joe Miller (and both would handily defeat Democratic candidate Scott McAdams), but there’s been little precedent for determining the ultimate success of a write-in candidate.
The New York Times reported earlier today that, unlike in some other write-in challenged, Alaska state elections director Gail Fenumiai would take a liberal view of attempts to spell Murkowski’s name: “If I can determine voter intent, then the ballot would be counted accordingly,” she wrote.