Lisa Murkowski’s Write-in War

Lauren Victoria Burke/WDCPIX.com

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In a last-ditch attempt to derail Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign, upwards of 100 Alaskans have registered as write-in candidates for Tuesday’s midterm election. The effort, called “Operation Alaska Chaos,” originated on conservative blogs and websites like Breitbart Media’s Big Government, Ace of Spades, and Just One Minute. (For the full story on how that happened, read this post by Dan Riehl.) Eventually, a conservative radio host in Anchorage, Dan Fagan, got wind of what was going on and began encouraging listeners to get their name on the ballot as a way to stir confusion and peel votes away from Murkowski. Despite widespread skepticism of Murkowski’s decision to run as a write-in candidate after her primary loss to tea partier Joe Miller, recent polling indicates that she’s leading the three-way race. Meanwhile, Miller’s popularity has plummeted in the wake of revelations about lies he told about a past ethics violation.

“Operation Alaska Chaos” was born out of the Alaska Supreme Court’s decision to allow election officials to distribute lists of write-in candidates at polling stations. The high court’s ruling was a boost to Murkowski, who’s crafted her campaign around slogans such as “Fill in the bubble! Write in the name!” But, the thinking goes, if a hundred more names appear on that write-in roster, with some possibly spelled similar to Murkowski’s, the Alaska senator could lose votes due to confusion or errors by voters.

Although the Miller campaign has said it has nothing to do “Operation Alaska Chaos,” Fagan, the radio host, is a self-proclaimed Miller supporter. And according to a recent survey, Miller needs all the support he can get. A Hays Research poll, commissioned by an Alaskan union chapter that supports Democratic candidate Scott McAdams, found that those who felt “somewhat negative” or “very negative” about Miller had spiked to a whopping 68 percent. That same poll showed Miller in third place in the race, with 23 percent of the vote, with Murkowski out front with 34 percent and McAdams with 29 percent.

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In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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