From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
The Joe Miller campaign handed out 400 tickets to a ballot-watching rally Tuesday night at the Snow Goose, and by the time the candidate arrived in a red-striped tie with his family, there was hardly a place to step on the hardwood floors.
Miller’s tea party-approved message of smaller government and state's rights -- combined with his pro-life social conservatism -- built a loyal following in Alaska over the summer. This was their opportunity, Miller told Alaskans during the campaign, to prevent brankrupting the nation.
It could be the only chance, he told supporters Tuesday night.
"It's everybody -- this generation and future generations that we have to be concerned about. But if we don't turn the nation around at this point, then it may not ever be an opportunity that we ever have again," Miller said.
What began as a night of optimism and nervous expectation soon faded into quiet disappointment.
After speaking briefly to the crowd, Miller and his family moved to a small room off-stage as the results began to appear. The crowd watched on a widescreen TV.
The write-ins were winning.
Instead of walking to the nearby election central at the Egan Center as expected, Miller stayed behind closed doors for more than an hour as staffers checked and re-checked their smart phones.
Many individual supporters, meantime, remained hopeful.
There were still a lot of votes to count, said Cowboy Church of Anchorage Pastor Doug Briney, who volunteered at the party. We don’t know which precincts remain to be counted, he said, and “Lisa was not the only write-in candidate.”
Finally Miller re-emerged and took the stage:
I lined up with a couple other reporters, hoping to hear more. Miller had been optimistic early in the day. What did he make of the early numbers and how was the campaign preparing for battle in the upcoming hand-count process?
A member of the campaign who didn’t give his name said Miller wouldn’t talk. The candidate quickly escorted his family to the elevator, stopping to shake a few supporters hands as he left the building.