Watch CBSN Live

Alaska Senate Primary Tests Tea Party Strength

Tuesday's U.S. Senate race promises to be the first real test of the tea party movement's political power in Alaska, a state that relies heavily on the federal government to run.

Self-described "constitutional conservative" Joe Miller hopes to tap into the nascent movement's frustrations with Washington to upset incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a better-known, better-financed candidate he has painted as too liberal and part of the problem.

Miller, an attorney and decorated veteran making his first statewide run for public office, has gotten high-profile support, notably from Sarah Palin and the California-based Tea Party Express, which has been crisscrossing the state, hosting at-times sparsely attended rallies and bombarding the airwaves with ads attacking Murkowski, accusing her of being a Republican in name only.

Pictures: 2010 Campaign So Far
Interactive Map: CBS News Election 2010 Race Ratings

Murkowski has fought back, particularly in the closing weeks, after focusing much of the campaign on her experience and record. A radio ad, on the election's eve, calls Miller out as twisting the truth about Murkowski's position on the federal health care overhaul. Miller has cast Murkowski as a flip-flopper on the issue of repeal - a claim Murkowski vehemently denies and points to her record as proof.

"Alaskans deserve to know the honest truth," she said, "and they haven't gotten it from Miller."

Miller has stood by his comments.

Murkowski, meanwhile, has touted her seniority, reached after just eight years in the Senate, and said her roles on the appropriations and energy committees puts herself in a strong position to ensure Alaskans' voices are heard. She also said she shares voters' frustrations and is fighting to do something about it.

On the Democratic ticket, Scott McAdams, Frank J. Vondersaar and Jacob Seth Kern are running. Fredrick "David" Haase is running as a Libertarian.

View CBS News In