From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage --
Lisa Murkowski said this morning that she was surprised Joe Miller is leading but that she’s optimistic the count of absentee votes will turn it around.
“It ain’t over yet folks. There are thousands of absentees that are yet to come in,” Murkowski said this morning at her campaign headquarters in Anchorage.
Murkowski said she still digesting the results and doesn’t know what happened.
“Our (poll) numbers all throughout have not only been strong but really overwhelmingly strong,” she said. “And clearly there was a shift, whether it was kind of the anti-incumbency feedback that you get in the Lower 48, I don’t know yet. I haven’t spent that much time dwelling on it because it’s been just a relatively few hours since the polls closed and we started seeing the results…I’m sure there will be much that is written on who is to blame and who is to credit.”
Murkowski wouldn’t discuss whether she’d pursue a third-party or independent write-in candidacy for the seat if she loses the Republican primary.
“It is way, way, way too premature to even be talking about that,” Murkowski said.
Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai told me it's too late for Murkowski to file to have her name appear on the ballot as an independent, so that would need to be a write-in effort. There is a Libertarian candidate in the race, Frederick Haase, who could choose to step down. The Libertarian Party could then select a replacement for him on the ballot.
There is no other third party candidate in the U.S. Senate race, so Libertarian would be the only option for Murkowski to join a new party for a run.
The Democratic nominee is Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, who is not well known statewide. McAdams could step down so the Democratic Party could select a replacement candidate to run in the November electionl. But it appears like McAdams is remaining in the race and the state party is supporting him.
McAdams is about to have a press conference at Alaska Democratic Party headquarters. The party said "Scott will explain why he can and will win in November."
Murkowski campaign manager John Bitney said many people voted absentee before the final advertising blitz launched by the Tea Party Express. Bitney said the Murkowski campaign also had an outreach effort to people who had requested absentee ballots, reaching thousands of them.