The 2010 Alaska primary may have resulted in a stunning upset against incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski by Tea Party- and Sarah Palin-backed candidate Joe Miller, a former judge and former candidate for State Representative.
As of this writing, Joe Miller leads Lisa Murkowski by a narrow margin. The final winner may not be declared until all of the absentee ballots are counted in early September.
Miller ran on a conservative platform of decreasing government spending, repeal of health care reform, opposition to cap-and-trade, and a pro-life position on abortion. Murkowski is among the few Republicans on the national level who supports abortion rights, something Miller hammered her about during the primary race.
Miller touted his support by Sarah Palin, Alaska’s former governor. The Sarah Palin endorsement propelled Miller to the forefront of the race and appears to have been decisive in his possible victory. Miller was also endorsed by Mike Huckabee, as well as talk show hosts Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham.
Miller’s possible win is remarkable due to the fact that no poll taken before the primary election showed him within striking distance of Lisa Murkowski. Some members of the mainstream media had already written their analysis pieces touting the “waning” of Sarah Palin’s influence in the 2010 election cycle. Those analysis pieces, plus models for voter turnout, will naturally have to be adjusted.
Murkowski may be the second member of her family to have her political career cut prematurely short by Palin. In 2006, Palin took on and beat Murkowski’s father, Frank Murkowski, in the primary for Governor. Sarah Palin went on to win the Alaska governorship and, in 2008, was chosen to be John McCain’s running mate, thus cementing her status as a national political figure. Palin subsequently resigned as Governor to concentrate on her role as a national political figure. The rest, as they say, is history.
Lisa Murkowski was named by her father to the Senate in 2002 to fill an unexpired term, in a controversial move, but won an election in 2004 outright.
Joe Miller’s unexpected strong showing and his possible win demonstrates that the hope of some people that the influence of the Tea Party Movement and Sarah Palin are somehow in descent is in vain. Miller’s insurgent candidacy demonstrates a huge level of discontent in the United States toward the political establishment. The likely effects in November will almost certainly be history-changing.
Lisa Murkowski faces possible upset, Shira Toeplitz, Politico, August 25th, 2010