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Anticipation in the Capitol - 4/26/2012 11:38 am

Election Commission finds 1/2 of precincts ran out of ballots; recommends no investigation - 4/25/2012 5:08 pm

Lisa Murkowski raises money, switches out campaign manager

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage ---

Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Saturday held a fundraising conference call that included Washington D.C. lobbyists and made personnel moves, including replacing her campaign manager for the upcoming write-in effort to keep her Senate seat.

John Bitney, who was campaign manager for Murkowski up until now, will remain with the campaign in a different capacity, potentially doing outreach in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, said Murkowski spokesman Steve Wackowski. “There is no bad blood at all, we realize there has got to be a new paradigm here (for the write-in),” Wackowski said.

Wackowski said it’s not firm who will take over as campaign manager as Murkowski attempts the massive task of winning a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate, something that hasn’t been successfully done since Strom Thurmond in 1954.

Murkowski reportedly has about $1 million in her campaign account for the effort, but she's going to need more money in order to try and pull off the write-in challenge against Joe Miller, who beat her in the Republican primary last month, and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, the Democratic nominee.

Murkowski held a conference call at 10:30 a.m. Saturday with people that Wackowski described as “supporters and friends, some of those who happen to be lobbyists” in Washington D.C. (the web site Politico described it as “scores of the most prominent lobbyists in Washingon”) The call included oil industry executives and some Democrats, Wackowski said, and Murkowski’s pitch to them was that she needs the support to “help make history,” and win a write-in campaign against a Republican nominee, Miller, she described during the conference call as an extremist.

Murkowski is beefing up her campaign staff, including bringing former spokeswoman Kristin Pugh Bundy on board to help Wackowski deal with the press. Karina Waller, who was the deputy chief of staff for Ted Stevens, is also coming on board to do outreach with Alaska community leaders.

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