It's Miller Time in Alaska

Senator Lisa Murkowski has conceded the GOP primary to the Tea Party extremist Joe Miller, a West Point grad with a Yale law degree in private practice up in Fairbanks.

The story in the New York Times:

Mr. Miller shocked the political establishment here and in Washington last week when he emerged with a narrow lead, 1,668 votes, after the primary vote, on Aug. 24. His victory makes him the presumed favorite to win the Senate seat from this heavily Republican state.

Mr. Miller, who has proposed drastic cuts in federal spending, had trailed badly in local polls in the weeks before the election but benefited from a last-minute flood of advertisements, mailings and automated calls casting Ms. Murkowski as a Democrat in disguise. An abortion-related ballot measure also brought conservatives to the polls.

Many people said Ms. Murkowski’s failure to respond aggressively to Mr. Miller’s attacks, including some that distorted her voting record, had played an important role in her defeat. But she suggested on Tuesday that she had no regrets.

“I’m so proud of the campaign that we conducted,” she told reporters at her campaign headquarters here as dozens of friends and family members surrounded her and cheered. “It was honest. It was upright. It was energetic. It was what a campaign in Alaska should be.”

“We stayed on the high road,” Ms. Murkowski said. “We talked about how we move the state of Alaska forward.”

Her concession followed the counting of about 17,000 additional ballots in the race on Tuesday, which left Mr. Miller with a lead of 1,630 votes out of about 104,000 cast. Several thousand more votes were to be counted on Friday, but the trend suggested Ms. Murkowski would not gain enough ground to win.

“Based on where we are right now, I don’t see a scenario where the primary will turn out in my favor,” she said.

It's certainly a feather in Sarah Palin's cap. Another Republican who was beyond ecstatic was South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint. He issued a short statement calling Miller's win "a wake-up call."

Joe Miller’s victory should be a wake-up call to politicians who go to Washington to bring home the bacon. Voters are saying ‘We’re not willing to bankrupt the country to benefit ourselves.’”Now it’s time for Republicans to unite behind Joe Miller and help him win this important race in November. I’m proud to announce that the Senate Conservatives Fund will add Joe Miller to its list of endorsed candidates, and will immediately begin working to raise support for his campaign.”

Joe Miller now faces Scott McAdams, the former mayor of Sitka. A Public Policy Polling survey released Sunday showed McAdams trailing Miller by only 8 points in a two-way race, 39 percent to 47 percent. McAdams would not fared as well if he had run against Murkowski. That same poll showed Murkowski leading McAdams, 60 percent to 28 percent.

There had been talk of replacing McAdams with a higher profile Democratic candidate but Senator Mark Begich and the Alaska Democratic Party have reaffirmed their support. The key now is raising at least a million dollars to run an effective campaign. McAdams had raised less than $10,000 as of his last FEC filing.

Miller is perhaps the most extreme candidate running this cycle and that's quite a statement given the likes of Sharron Angle, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. Miller wants to eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy. He believes that unemployment insurance and Medicaid are unconstitutional and has called for sweeping cuts to Medicare and Social Security with a goal of phasing them out entirely in favor of total privatization. He wants to ban all abortions, even in the case of rape or incest. And while he favors deep spending cuts to social safety net programmes, the former combat veteran of the first Gulf War does not think the defense budget should be cut.

“If we have one nuclear bomb or one chemical weapon go off in one of our cities overnight, it changes the face of this nation and in a horrific way, not just in loss of life, but in loss of freedom, the impact financially,” Miller told the Fairbanks News Miner. “We still haven’t recovered from 9/11. We can’t afford to have a military that isn’t that strong, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have efficiencies, and I think that’s what the secretary is trying to build.”

 

Baked Alaska

Up in Alaska, Senator Lisa Murkowski trails Joe Miller, a Fairbanks lawyer who received endorsements from Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck's 9-12 Project and the Tea Party Express. With 429 of 438 precincts reporting, Miller has 45,909 votes while Murkowski has 43,949 votes. According to the Alaska Division of Elections, more than 16,000 absentee ballots were requested and fewer than half (7,600) had been returned as of Monday night. The full results won't be known for at least a week and it is possible that Murkowski may yet overtake Miller. The Anchorage Daily News has more:

Miller credited the support of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his lead.

"I'm absolutely certain that was pivotal," he said.

Murkowski on Tuesday night took a shot at Palin, saying that when Palin resigned as governor last summer she said she would use her new national role to help out Alaska.

"I think she's out for her own self-interest. I don't think she's out for Alaska's interest," Murkowski said as she waited at her campaign headquarters for results to come in.

Her campaign spokesman, Steve Wackowski, was holding out hope that she would benefit from support in rural and coastal areas of the state that hadn't yet reported.

"We knew the race was going to be tight. The rural areas have yet to come in and we know Sen. Murkowski is going to be very strong in the rural areas."

Most of the remaining precincts are in rural areas, where paper ballots are counted by hand.

The final results of the race won't be known for over a week. The Alaska Division of Elections said over 16,000 absentee ballots were requested and as of Monday night 7,600 had been returned. The first count of absentees will be next Tuesday and there will be two subsequent counts as the absentee votes trickle in on Sept. 3 and on Sept. 8.

Polls prior to vote had Murkowski winning comfortably by double digits. The last poll I saw was from RT Nielson poll, a poll commissioned by the Tea Party Express backing Miller, put Murkowski at 46.91 percent and Miller at 35.39 percent. Clearly, the polls were off.

Here's what we know about Miller. He is a 43-year-old father of eight and deeply religious. Born in the mid-west ( I've heard both Kansas and Illinois), he graduated from West Point in 1989 and served in the first Gulf War. He went on to earn a law degree from Yale in 1995 and moved to Alaska to take a law firm job. In Alaska, he earned a Master's in Economics from the University of Alaska. He soon became a U.S. magistrate judge before stepping down in 2004 to make an unsuccessful run for state representative. He is currently an attorney in private practice in Fairbanks. He is a friend of Todd Palin which is how he got the endorsement of Sarah Palin.

Salon has some more color:

His positions on the issues -- though we don't know many specifics -- would put him in line with diehard conservatives in the Senate like Jim DeMint of South Carolina. He says not only that he would repeal what he calls "ObamaCare," but that the health care overhaul law is not consititutional. Ditto for cap and trade legislation: he opposes it, and argues it is unconstitutional. Miller has said he would cut funding to the U.N. and the IMF and other foreign aid, but maintained in a letter to seniors he would not cut Social Security.

Miller also holds that unemployment insurance is unconstitutional. A strict constitutionalist, Miller says he believes the Federal Department of Education and the Department of Energy should be abolished and that, over the long term, the government should stop offering Social Security and Medicare. He believes that the TARP and the healthcare reform are not just wrong but unconstitutional. 

On other issues, Miller has placed himself in line with other Tea Party candidates running for Senate seats this year -- including Nevada's Sharron Angle and Colorado's Ken Buck -- by saying that he is opposed to allowing women to obtain abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. In a recent interview with the Fairbank Daily News-Miner, he said that he is "unequivocally pro-life," except "when the mother's life is in danger." He supports the Arizona immigration stance and does not believe the millions of immigrants already here illegally should be granted amnesty.

The winner of the Murkowski-Miller race will face Democrat Scott McAdams, the former mayor of Sitka, in the November general election. If Murkowski does lose, there's a chance that she can run on a third party ticket or perhaps run a write-in candidacy. She cannot, however, run as independent a la Joe Lieberman. The filing deadline for independent candidates ended in June.

 

Senator Murkowski Seeks Pardon for Convicted Felon Ted Stevens

Michael Brumas, the Communications Director for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, confirmed to the Anchorage Daily News that her office is seeking a Presidential Pardon for convicted felon Ted Stevens.

With less than 48 hours left of the Bush presidency, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski's spokesman said today that Murkowski had asked the White House to pardon the former senior senator of Alaska, [convicted felon] Ted Stevens. Michael Brumas, Murkowski's communications director, said the pardon request was made earlier this month. He declined to give other details, including whether Stevens himself wanted the pardon and had asked Murkowski to pursue it on his behalf. "It's just a very sensitive issue and a sensitive time - a couple days left," Brumas said. "We're just not saying anything more."

There's more...

Governor Palin puts "politics first" over education

There was an important education summit in Anchorage this week.  I thought this YouTube excerpt from the Matt Lauer interview would highlight how well our Governor Palin's family acts as a roll model for education in Alaska:

Notice how Piper Palin emphasizes that she missed "A LOT" of school and that she's having a "REALLY HARD" time catching up.

So, it seems that there wasn't a tutor along on the VP Campaign trail.  It also seems that they weren't doing any schoolwork on that bus or plane.  Would it have been that much trouble for the parents to set it up? They were able to squeeze a country band in (The John Rich Band).


(photo from Meghan McCain's blog)

Also, for a kid to make that kind of statement on national television, it sure sounded like she was asking for help. Yet, everyone completely glossed over her comment and moved on to discussing presidential race 2012.  

Between a pregnant Bristol, her high-school drop-out baby's-daddy and poor Piper, it seems that the Governor's kids and grandkid may end up as statistics.

A third article appeared in today's Anchorage Daily News dicussing Alaska Dropout Prevention Summit put on by America's Promise.  The summit was organized, even extended to a third day, in order to deal with the dire position of Alaska's educational system.  Our dropout rate is 8%--double the rest of the country.  Over 38% of our ninth graders will not get a high school diploma in the next 10 years.  Alaska ranks dead last (50th) in the number of ninth graders who will get a bachelor's degree in the next 10 years.

Senator Lisa Murkowski convened the third day of the summit even though the Feds don't have a lot to do with education (other than the pesky No Child Left Behind)...education falls to the states.  I give a lot of credit to Murkowski for being there, since our own Governor...who has EVERYTHING to do with education in Alaska...couldn't be bothered to show up.  She was definitely invited:

Governor Palin has been invited to address the Education Summit.
 

(more below the fold)

There's more...

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