Murkowski trails tea party foe in Alaska

August 26, 2010

By Sean Lengell-The Washington Times

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski trails a “tea party”-backed challenger by a slim margin in the state’s Republican primary held on Tuesday that’s still too close to call.

If the results hold, Mrs. Murkowski would join a growing list of Republican Party insiders who have fallen to political upstarts in primary elections in a year that has featured an unusually high level of GOP infighting.

“It was really her race to lose, and she’s almost lost it,” said University of Alaska at Fairbanks political science professor Jerry McBeath. “It’s going to be very difficult for her to come through.”

With 98 percent of precincts counted, Mrs. Murkowski trailed Joe Miller, a Fairbanks lawyer, by 1,960 votes out of more than 91,000 counted. As many as 16,000 absentee votes, as well as an undetermined number of provisional or questioned ballots, remain to be counted.

Mr. Miller had 45,909 votes, or 51 percent, while Murkowski had 43,949 votes, or 49 percent.

It could be a week or more before the final results of the race are known, as the state Division of Elections said it received about 7,600 absentee-type ballots by Monday.

A significant number of absentee ballots were sent to military personal who are expected to support Mr. Miller, who is a decorated Gulf War veteran, Mr. McBeath said.

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