Miller’s Crossing

Alaska’s GOP Senate nominee starts his quest to ask voters to “look into your heart”.  Senate Democrats may start asking contributors to look into their wallets.

It had all the looks of an epic recount slugfest.  Narrow margin of victory.  A near blood fued between the waring factions.  Lawyers from Washington.  Instead, Alaska’s GOP primary battle royale ended with a whimper, not a bang:

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska conceded late Tuesday in her Republican primary race to Joe Miller, a lawyer from Fairbanks backed by Tea Party activists, Sarah Palin and other conservatives…

Ms. Murkowski’s concession followed the counting of about 16,000 additional ballots on Tuesday, which left Mr. Miller with a lead of about 1,469 votes out of about 103,000 cast. Several thousand more votes were to be counted on Friday but the trend suggested Ms. Murkowski would not gain enough ground to win.

Despite fumbling her re-election bid worse than Joe Pisarcik and entertaining a variety of ways to get onto the November ballot, Lisa Murkowski decided – at least for the moment – not to further risk the odds of a Republican holding her seat come November.  That hasn’t stopped Murkowski from sidestepping an endorsement of her primary bête noire.  And from the looks of yet another early poll, Joe Miller could use the support as Rasmussen has Democrat Scott McAdams within 6%:

Rasmussen Alaska Senatorial Survey

  • Joe Miller (R) 50%
  • Scott McAdams (D) 44%
  • Other 4%
  • Not sure 2%

Favorable / Unfavorable {Net}

  • Scott McAdams 43% / 36% {+7%}
  • Joe Miller 50% / 44% {+6%}

To call McAdams’ post primary fundraising Lazarus-like would imply his financial efforts had once been alive.  But since Murkowski and Miller headed to extra innings, Democrats in the lower 48 states have been slowly funneling McAdams coffers – thus far to the tune of just over $77,000.  Such figures might help in the 173rd “largest” media market in the U.S., but McAdams may be fighting his own internecine battle with state and national Democrats who are hinting at trying to replace him with more established names like former Governor Tony Knowles or former Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer.

More likely, Alaska will be witnessing two AAA candidates battling in the political majors, egging on by activists from both sides.   Neither party’s senate branch is likely to pour resources into Alaska; the DSCC even moreso if McAdams remains on the ticket as they simply can’t afford to expend resources with so many vulernable incumbents.  But that hasn’t stopped conservative and liberals activists from trying to throw gas on the cooling embers of the primary in an effort to stoke interest and donations.  Consider the race the defacto Tea Party vs The Daily Kos battle of the frozen tundra.

But Joe Miller’s biggest opponent isn’t Scott McAdams but – depending on which numbers you feel matter more – either the 40% of Republicans who say they have an unfavorable opinion about him or the near 50% of Republicans who voted against him.  To that effect, Miller needs to keep Tea Party interest in his campaign brewing lest the coffers run dry, especially as he attempts to bridge the divide between his supporters and Murkowski’s. 

Could Murkowski torpedo the entire endeavor and endorse McAdams?  Sure, but doing so would stain the entire Murowski legacy in Alaska and all but formally ensure that Lisa Murkowski’s political career truly ended on primary night.  Murkowski’s relatively quick concession at least shows enough political acumen to suggest she’s still interested in surviving to fight another day.

11 thoughts on “Miller’s Crossing

  1. I listened to Joe Miller on Laura Ingraham’s show last night.

    He sure sounds like he is the type of fiscal conservative that we need in DC. A West Point graduate and former Army officer, it is a bit of an enigma that he also has a PhD from Yale, but he spoke of the dire need for sound leadership in the District of Crooks. The fact that he’s also a good old boy political outsider that as yet (hopefully never) beholden to no one, should also play well to Alaskans.

    I, for one, hope that he makes it.

  2. “Could Murkowski torpedo the entire endeavor and endorse McAdams?”

    All she’d have to do is withhold the endorsement from Miller. After Miller’s nasty campaign, and even nastier recount rhetoric, I don’t think Alaskan’s would blame Murkowski.

    We traded a candidate that was a slam dunk for re-election for a inexperienced and unknown candidate who will have a tough time against McAdams. If they are able to swap Tony Knowles for McAdams then I think this is over. Tony Knowles was elected twice as Governor of AK, and remains the most popular Democrat in AK.

    Is this risk worth it? Murkowski has a lifetime ACU rating of 70, the Democrat Senator Bagich has a ACU of about 10.

    Maybe we should worry about retaking the Senate before trying to hunt mild “RINOs” like Murkowski.

  3. I don’t think Alaskan’s would blame Murkowski.

    If only the seat in Alaska were in play, that might be true. But there are a lot of eyes on this situation beyond Alaska.

    Murkowski has a lot more to lose through being petulant than she would have from being gracious and working for Miller, or at least not being an active impediment. What future would she have if she sandbagged Miller and he lost, while the rest of the party won a bunch of Senate seats and came up short because of Alaska?

    FR is right — her career would be over if she did that. If she bides her time, she’ll have a chance to earn a lot of goodwill and a shot at Begich later on. Time is on her side if she chooses to use it wisely.

  4. “FR is right — her career would be over if she did that. ”

    If she actively supports McAdams, then I agree. If she just stays out of it and doesn’t actively support Miller then I disagree.

    I don’t know what she’ll do. Her father didn’t actively support Palin after losing the endorsement to her, but his career was over anyway.

    If Miller loses and we come up one seat short in the Senate, I don’t think it will be Murkowski that gets the blame.

  5. Her father didn’t actively support Palin after losing the endorsement to her, but his career was over anyway.

    That’s a cautionary tale, doncha think? Murkowski plays nice this time, she’ll get another chance. If she doesn’t, she won’t.

  6. “That’s a cautionary tale,” — not really. After 22 years in the senate, and a term at Governor, he was done anyway at age 73. In any case, after losing the endorsement, he was the least popular politician in AK, and his endorsement of Palin wasn’t needed nor wouldn’t have helped.

  7. Doesn’t change my point — if Murkowski wants to win an election in Alaska in the future, she’ll need the votes of people who supported Miller in this cycle. If there were a way for her to win without the Miller supporters, she wouldn’t have conceded the race this time. Best to make nice.

  8. “Best to make nice.” The Miller campaign should have thought of that before accusing her of “pulling a Franken”.

    I expect she will eventually endorse Miller, but don’t look for any more than that.

  9. I expect she will eventually endorse Miller, but don’t look for any more than that.

    That would be enough. And Scott is right — a lot of politicians could learn something about grace from the way that Marty Seifert handled things. And I suspect that Marty will be rewarded for that, too. And he should be.

  10. Pingback: Shot in the Dark » Blog Archive » The Write Choice

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