By all accounts, it looks like Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican defeated for renomination in the Aug. 24 primary, will announce later Friday (5 p.m. Alaska time/9 p.m. Eastern) that she will seek to keep her seat in the November election on a write-in campaign.
CNN: "A Republican source tells CNN that Sen. Murkowski has informed 'a few' close colleagues on the hill that she will run as a write-in candidate."
Hotline On Call: Murkowski "will run."
CQ Politics header: "All Signs Point to Murkowski Write-In Campaign."
Murkowski cousin Mary Gore, on Facebook: "Today is big....my cousin will announce at 5:00 today that she will run as a write-in candidate."
And so on.
Murkowski took a week before she finally conceded her narrow primary defeat to attorney Joe Miller. But there have since been hints, widely reported, that she was looking for ways to get back in the race. (See Sept. 7 Junkie post, "Is Sen. Murkowski Having Second Thoughts About Getting Back In The Race?") A trial balloon of her replacing the Libertarian Party nominee on the ballot went nowhere. It became apparent that her only option to stay in the Senate was to pursue a write-in campaign.
Only one senator, Strom Thurmond (D) of South Carolina, has ever been elected to the Senate on a write-in, and that was in 1954. Three House members came to office that way: Ron Packard of California in 1982, Joe Skeen of New Mexico in 1980 and Dale Alford of Arkansas in 1958. Alford was a Democrat, while Packard and Skeen were Republicans.
Several Alaska politicians have tried to reach statewide office that way as well, though none has succeeded. Two memorable instances: After Sen. Ernest Gruening was defeated in the 1968 Democratic primary, he attempted to keep the seat as a write-in candidate but got just 17 percent of the vote. Former Gov. Walter Hickel ran as a write-in candidate in 1978 (after he lost the GOP primary by just 98 votes) and got 26 percent of the vote.
The issue is one of the few things the Republican Party and the Tea Party completely agree on. Both want Murkowski to stay out of the race. Tea Party folks, who strongly supported Joe Miller, say a write-in campaign smacks of being a sore loser. And the last thing GOP officials want is a split that would somehow send the Democratic nominee, Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, to the Senate. They would love for Murkowski to accept defeat now and perhaps come back and run against Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in 2014. Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn and John McCain, all of whom backed Murkowski in the primary, are now in Miller's corner.