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Alaska's Contentious Senate Race Undecided

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Alaska's Contentious Senate Race Undecided

Alaska's Contentious Senate Race Undecided

Alaska's Contentious Senate Race Undecided

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

It could be weeks before the Senate race in Alaska is decided. Incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski is running a write-in campaign after her defeat in the Republican primary by Tea Party favorite Joe Miller. The campaign was marked by embarrassing revelations about Miller and confusion and court cases over the rules for write-ins. Renee Montagne talks with Michael Carey, former editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News, for the latest developments.


We're learning more, this morning, about the winners and losers of yesterday's election - with some notable exceptions.

Senator LISA MURKOWSKI (Republican, Alaska): Things are just starting to percolate here in Alaska.

MONTAGNE: Just starting to percolate. That's the current Republican senator from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski, speaking with NPR. Murkowski launched a write-in campaign after she lost the Republican primary to Tea Party favorite Joe Miller. And though the results aren't all in, the Alaska race so far shows write-in votes in the lead. We reached Michael Carey at the convention center in Anchorage where the ballots are being reported. He's the former editorial page editor of The Anchorage Daily News. Good morning.

Mr. MICHAEL CAREY (Former Editor, Editorial page, The Anchorage Daily News): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: So write-in basically translates to Murkowski? I mean there's no other big write-in candidate there?

Mr. CAREY: There'll be 250 people out of 100,000 who, for perverse reasons, will vote for Mickey Mouse or their mother or somebody else.

MONTAGNE: How long will it take to get a count on all those votes?

Mr. CAREY: Weeks. They have a process here that is fair and honest, but frustrating to news reporters and others who want instant analysis. The most significant thing is that write-in is in first place in the horse race, and there's a good chance it'll stay there.

MONTAGNE: Apropos of that, Senator Murkowski also had this to say to NPR.

Senator MURKOWSKI: I am a Republican, always have been, and fully intend to go back to the caucus that I was part of, and am, I guess, still part of.

MONTAGNE: So if she does in fact win, she will be part of that caucus -presumably won't be voting with the Democrats - that has a lot to do with her opponent, Joe Miller's, performance.

Mr. CAREY: Lisa Murkowski emphasized her experience, her seniority, her relationship with many of the people in the leadership, and that's something that Miller really had a hard time combating. But his problems were mostly of his own making, things he said about Social Security, about the minimum wage. He thought that minimum wage was unconstitutional, which came across as pretty strange to people around here.

MONTAGNE: Well, in the end, do you think Alaskan Republicans will come to regret making Joe Miller the Republican candidate instead of Murkowski?

Mr. CAREY: This election can fairly and honorably be characterized as the revenge of the establishment. The Alaska political establishment rallied behind Lisa Murkowski and they put on one heck of a campaign, and it looks like she won.

MONTAGNE: Well, briefly, let's turn to the Democratic challenger, Scott McAdams. Where did he end up?

Mr. CAREY: He's down at 23 or 24 percent. This is a guy who had a lot of Democratic help. He ran a very smooth campaign to introduce himself. He raised more than a million dollars and he could only get 23 or 24 percent. This is a very, very red state. That's the lesson of that.

MONTAGNE: How does this apparent win by Lisa Murkowski, and certainly a real strong showing, reflect on Sarah Palin - because she had, of course, endorsed Joe Miller. And well - Sarah Palin, Alaska - you'd think that would carry a lot of weight.

Mr. CAREY: She had a very bad day, from Sharron Angle in Nevada to O'Donnell in Delaware, to what happened here. A number of the candidates she backed lost. Sarah Palin is much more important to the nation, or the national Republicans and conservatives, than she is to people here in Alaska. People don't talk about her very much here anymore. I know this is a big surprise, I get calls from the national media, but it's true.

MONTAGNE: Thanks very much for joining us.

Mr. CAREY: My pleasure.

MONTAGNE: Michael Carey is the former editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News.

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