Tea party candidate Joe Miller may upset incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski in Alaska after all. Miller was an unknown until just the past few days, when polls showed him nipping at Murkowski’s heels. As of this morning, the incumbent trailed Miller by 2,555 votes with 84 percent of precincts reporting.
Murkowski has 48.6 percent of the vote to Miller’s 51.4 percent. It may take another week for the final tally, however, as the 16,000 absentee ballots won’t be counted until Aug. 31.
If Miller does win, it would be quite an upset. He was trailing Murkowski by 32 points a month ago, and the state’s senior senator outspent him by 20-to-1. Murkowski has been in the Senate since 2002; her father, Frank, appointed her to fill his seat when he became governor of the state.
Miller got a boost from the endorsements of several high-profile conservatives like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The former, of course, has a storied history with the Murkowski family, having unseated Murkowski’s father in 2006. An anti-incumbent sentiment may have won out here, even in a state that is known for respecting seniority. Murkowski is currently the ranking minority member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has played a key role in drafting legislation over the past two years.
The winner in the Republican primary will face Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, who won the Democratic nomination yesterday.