Lisa Murkowski Vows to Fight on in Alaska Senate Race

Sen. Lisa Murkowski
AP
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who trails Tea Party-backed candidate Joe Miller by a few votes in the Alaska GOP primary with thousands of absentee ballots yet to be counted, told reporters this afternoon that "it ain't over yet."

"There is much, much yet to be counted," she said.

As the Anchorage Daily News reports, Murkowski attempted to explain why she might lose a race that most expected her to win easily going into Election Day, though she noted she hadn't had much time to consider what happened yet.

"Our (poll) numbers all throughout have not only been strong but really overwhelmingly strong," she said. "And clearly there was a shift, whether it was kind of the anti-incumbency feedback that you get in the Lower 48, I don't know yet."

Murkowski called discussion of an independent or third-party run "way too premature," but speculation is growing that she might take that route if Miller ultimately comes out on top in the primary. As the Daily Beast's Shushannah Walshe reports, one option for Murkowski would be to run on the Alaska Independent Party ticket. (Watch Walshe discuss the race on CBSNews.com's "Washington Unplugged" today.)

But there's a problem with going that route: The AIP is a secessionist party grounded in a call for Alaska to secede from the union. (You might recall a minor scandal in 2008 when it was revealed that Todd Palin had been a member.) The fact that Murkowski by all accounts wants to stick with the other 49 states could make her an awkward fit on the AIP line.

Still, Murkowski has a legitimate chance at a general election victory if she can get on the ballot. (A write-in campaign is also a possibility, though going that route would seem to diminish her chances.) A source in her campaign told Walshe that "she has a substantial amount of money left and one would have to wonder whether or not last night's results are wake-up call to less motivated, moderate middle of the road voters who went home after work yesterday in the sunshine and thought it's not a big deal [to vote because] she would win."

At her Anchorage news conference this afternoon, Murkowski declined to talk about what role Sarah Palin played in boosting Miller, who she endorsed and raised more for. (The Murkowski and Palin have an acrimonious history, driven in part by Palin's defeat of Murkowski's father in the 2006 governor's race.) Miller called Palin's support "pivotal" in his success; Murkowski said yesterday Palinis "out for her own self-interest," not the interests of Alaskans.

More election coverage:

How Much Does Joe Miller Owe Sarah Palin?
Is Kendrick Meek's Florida Primary Win Bad News for Democrats?
Pictures: 2010 Campaign So Far
If Miller Wins, Will Alaskans Really Turn Backs on Federal Government Largess?
Rick Scott Win: Bad News for Republicans?
Alaska Election Results Provide a Boost to Palin
Murkowski Trails in Tight Alaska Primary
Meek Wins Florida Democratic Senate Primary
McCain Wins GOP Nomination for Senate in Ariz.
Arizona Primary Results: Ben Quayle Wins

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