Murkowski Concedes in Alaska’s Senate Primary

Posted August 31, 2010 at 9:44pm

Updated: 11:50 p.m.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) conceded to her primary opponent, Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller, on Tuesday night — one week after voters in Alaska went to the polls and shocked the state and national political establishment.

“I don’t see a scenario where the primary will turn out in my favor, and that is a reality that is before me at this point in time,” she said during her live television announcement, the Associated Press reported.

Murkowski becomes the third incumbent Senator to lose renomination this year. Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah) were ousted in the spring.

After the initial vote tally from the Aug. 24 primary, Miller led Murkowski by 1,668 votes, with thousands of absentee and disputed ballots left to be counted.

Alaska had begun counting its first batch of outstanding primary ballots Tuesday to settle the close race. As of 10:35 p.m. EST, the updated vote tally on the Alaska Division of Elections website showed Miller with a lead of 1,630 votes after about 15,000 ballots were counted Tuesday.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) issued a statement congratulating Miller and thanking Murkowski, the GOP Conference Vice Chairwoman, for her work.

“The NRSC is committed to doing everything that we can in order to ensure Joe Miller’s victory this November, and I have no doubt that he will be elected as the next U.S. Senator from Alaska,” Cornyn said.

Miller will run against Democratic candidate Scott McAdams, the mayor of Sitka.

On Monday, the Alaska Libertarian Party announced that it would not drop its nominee in favor of Murkowski, which would prevent her from running on the Libertarian line in November. Murkowski’s only option to compete in the general election would be as a write-in candidate, but that is not viewed as a likely avenue at this point.

Miller had the backing of tea party organizations and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R). The conservative Club for Growth, which endorsed Miller late last week after the primary and weighed getting into the contest earlier, also cheered his victory Tuesday night.

“We look forward to helping Joe Miller win in November, and helping him straighten out the Senate and the Republican Party once he gets here,” Club President Chris Chocola said in a statement.