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In the nation’s last undecided Senate race, national Republicans are coming to the aide of tea party favorite Joe Miller, and will ask supporters to help pay for his post-election legal fight against incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Murkowski appears to be leading Miller by a wide margin in her write-in bid, but National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn will e-mail supporters Friday and urge them to make donations to Miller’s campaign.

“Joe Miller in Alaska is dedicated to the conservative principals we need in Washington DC. But he faces the potential of a lengthy recount. And in Alaska, they are still counting votes from election day. We need to get Joe the resources he needs to win the vote count,” the Texas Republican says in the e-mail, asking recipients to make donations of $100, $75, $50 or even $25 to “help ensure that this vote count is conducted fairly.”

“Both sides are beginning to lawyer up and prepare for any possible legal fights. Joe needs your help to make sure he has enough money to make it a fair contest,” Cornyn adds in the e-mail.

Cornyn’s pitch comes as Murkowski is ramping up her own post-election efforts, including setting up the Alaska Voter Defense Fund to help pay her legal expenses. Murkowski is expected to host a fundraiser for the group Monday. State officials will begin counting write-in ballots Wednesday and hope to finish the count Friday.

A drawn-out fight between two Republicans is the last thing GOP leaders want as they try to capitalize on Tuesday’s massive electoral gains. But Cornyn finds himself in an exceedingly difficult position.
Murkowski appears headed to victory at this point, and she is well-liked by her colleagues. But Miller is a favorite of the tea party and conservative activists, and the NRSC threw its weight behind him after he bested Murkowski during the state’s primary.

Any appearance that Cornyn’s support for Miller has softened would likely be taken as an affront by tea party activists, a group Republicans are trying to bring into the fold.

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