In another setback for Republican Joe Miller’s Alaska Senate campaign, write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski has pulled ahead by about 1,700 votes.
Murkowski launched her write-in campaign after losing the Republican primary to the tea party-backed Miller. Write-in candidates received 41% of the vote in the general election, which forced a count of the ballots to see how many were for Murkowski.
She now leads with about 92,000 votes, but that includes roughly 7,600 votes that were challenged by the Miller campaign.
About 89% of the write-in votes so far have gone uncontested for Murkowski, with the Miller campaign challenging the others for spelling errors. So far the state has included those votes in the count for Murkowski, but Miller has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that Alaska law prevents the state from counting spelling errors.
About 8,000 write-in votes still have to be counted.
Miller has said he won’t challenge an outright Murkowski win, but Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto told the Anchorage Daily News that Miller could still get enough votes thrown out in court to win. “The race is far from over,” he said.
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Even if Miller does go to court, many of the votes that were challenged appear to be clear votes for Murkowski that the court will likely uphold. One vote, for example, was disputed because the “L” in “Lisa” was in cursive.
Miller also had high hopes that he would get a boost from the absentee ballots that were counted yesterday, but the ADN reports that though there are 600 absentees left to be counted, so far they’ve been mostly write-ins.