Joe Miller’s refusal to concede the Alaska Senate election has Republicans divided over how to respond to an awkward political standoff between a GOP incumbent who has already declared victory and a GOP nominee whose campaign still maintains a committed core of grass-roots support.
With a lead in excess of 10,000 votes, Sen. Lisa Murkowski declared victory Wednesday in Anchorage after The Associated Press called the race for her — making her the first senator to be elected by write-in vote in more than 50 years.
But Miller has yet to concede and has said that he’s exploring all his legal options, including calling for a recount. He filed a lawsuit against the state arguing it should apply a strict spelling standard to Murkowski’s ballots and sued to stop election officials from certifying the race on Nov. 29 — an injunction a federal judge granted temporarily Friday evening while Miller moves his case to state court.
The mathematical path to victory remains very difficult for Miller: Every one of the 8,159 write-in ballots that have been counted for Murkowski but have been challenged by Miller would have to be disqualified by a federal judge. And Miller would have to prove another 2,189 votes were not counted correctly following his review of the voter rolls.
With Miller, who defeated Murkowski for the GOP nomination in August, facing almost impossible odds, state and national Republicans have been left in an uncomfortable position.
The Alaska Republican Party was the first to take sides, with Chairman Randy Ruedrich congratulating Murkowski on her victory Wednesday.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, on the other hand, has remained silent on the matter, declining to comment until the results were “official.”