From Erika Bolstad in Washington D.C. –
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, on Monday called on Republican Joe Miller to drop his legal challenge to the Senate election, saying a drawn-out court suit is "certain to fail." Begich also said he's concerned Miller's continued legal challenge could deny Alaska full representation in the U.S. Senate when the new Congress resumes in January.
After a hand count of ballots, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign is ahead by 10,328 votes. That lead narrows to 2,169 after subtracting the votes challenged by Miller's campaign. Miller has asked a judge to establish a standard of review for the ballots, as well as a possible recount.
Miller told The Associated Press that he's "more convinced than ever that this is the right fight, not for Joe Miller but for Alaska."
Begich, though, said it's time for Miller "to put Alaska interests ahead of personal ambition and allow the State of Alaska to certify Lisa Murkowski as the winner."
"Failure to certify the election could prevent Senator Murkowski from being sworn into office in early January when other new senators officially take office," Begich said.
Begich also said he thought that as the mood in Washington has shifted away from earmarking, "it's vital that Alaska have both senators putting our unique needs first and fighting for our state."
"Without both senators, Alaska's interests will be at risk on critical issues from energy development to job creation and reducing the national debt in a way that's fair to Alaskans," he said.
UPDATE: Miller had this response, late Monday: Begich should "get back to work and stop wasting time in D.C."
"What is vital is that the people of Alaska can trust the election process," he said. "The Miller campaign has stated repeatedly, all we want is for all the votes to be counted in accordance with Alaska statutes."
"Personal ambition has nothing to do with the legal issues," Miller said, adding that "such a statement reflects a serious misunderstanding if not a complete ignorance about the election process and the issues involved."
He also said Begich "would better serve Alaska by working on a budget that does not bankrupt our country instead of fiddling away while Rome burns."
And campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto offered this final salvo: "It should be of great concern that Mark Begich, who is so aligned with President Obama's failed Big Government policies, feels so anxious to make sure Lisa Murkowski stands by his side in the Senate."