From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –
The Tea Party Express announced this morning it is backing Joe Miller’s bid to defeat Alaska Sen, Lisa Murkowski in the August Republican primary election. The group is promising to have staff on the ground in Alaska and to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to support his candidacy.
This is a big deal for Miller’s long-shot candidacy. The Tea Party Express said it will make the race its top priority between now and the Aug. 24 primary. (Who is the Tea Party Express? The Atlantic did a comprehensive story on the group last week. Read it by clicking here.)
The group promises to launch a wave of TV and radio ads supporting Miller, and opposing Murkowski in the coming weeks.
Tea Party Express-backed candidate Sharron Angle earlier this month came from behind in Nevada to defeat a far better known Republican U.S. Senate candidate in that state's Republican primary.
The Tea Party Express put over $500,000 into that race.
It’s promising to spend over $1 million on Angle's race to beat Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The group told CNN it sees a parallel in Miller. "This guy is kind of a Sharron Angle type," a Tea Party Express official told CNN.
I haven’t heard Miller express some of Angle’s widely discussed positions, like phasing out Social Security. But his campaign announcement said the nation is in a “head-long plunge into socialism," and he’s said that he believes the federal government should be limited to powers set forth in the Constitution.
Miller, a lawyer from Fairbanks, already received the endorsement of Sarah Palin.
"Unfortunately, Lisa Murkowski and much of the political establishment have recently evolved into being a bigger part of the big government problem in Washington, and they've strayed from the principles upon which they had espoused," Palin wrote on her Facebook page.
Palin called Miller a "true Commonsense Constitutional Conservative.”
Murkowski has criticized use of the term "death panels" that was popularized by Palin during the health care debate, saying it wasn't accurate and not helpful to the debate.
Murkowski also was highly critical of Palin's decision to resign from the governor's office last July, saying she was "deeply disappointed that the governor has decided to abandon the state and her constituents before her term has concluded."
Bryan Shroyer, political director for the Tea Party Express, said Murkowski "has become part of the problem in Washington."
"Her support for record deficit spending, and her flip-flopping on whether to repeal Obamacare are just two of the many issues in which she has broken trust with the citizens she was elected to represent," he said.
Murkowski told KTUU-TV in April that the federal health care law needs to be changed but "if you just repeal and you do nothing, we will not have addressed health care reform."
Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams is running for the seat as a Democrat.
The Murkowski campaign had this to say about the Tea Party Express move:
"Senator Murkowski’s credentials as a conservative are clear; she opposed the Democrat’s stimulus bills and voted nine times to repeal parts and the entirety of ObamaCare. Just last week, she led the fight to curtail a massive government encroachment into our economy--the EPA power grab on carbon emissions, which garnered a veto threat from President Obama. She has received “A” ratings from the NRA for her defense of 2nd Amendment rights, opposed raising the debt limit, and voted on five separate occasions to freeze non-defense discretionary spending."