After painstaking two-weeks of waiting, Lisa Murkowski is finally claiming her prize. Today, the Republican incumbent apparently won the race for Alaska Senate, defeating Tea Party-backed challenger and Sarah Palin favorite Joe Miller.
"Over a 100,000 Alaskan voters have correctly filled in the oval and written in 'Lisa Murkowski.' That's a pretty affirmative act of the electorate here in this state," said Murkowski in her first interview since declaring victory. She discussed her political comeback with The Last Word on Msnbc.
"Joe is trying to blame this, that, or the other thing. But, the fact of the matter is, even if we were to throw out every one of the ballots that he has challenged, he still loses by the count," said Murkowski. "He had said several days ago, if the numbers don't line up, he's not going to drag this out," she said. "He's going to have to make that call. But, Alaskans have clearly spoken and they have put it in writing."
Current totals show her in the lead by more than 10,400 votes, which includes the 8,153 ballots Miller observers challenged over things like misspellings, extra words or legibility issues. For the past few days, ballot counters have been pouring over write-in ballots, analyzing every last letter and detail. Voters had to not only write in her name, but also spell it correctly (M-U-R-K-O-W-S-K-I).
However, Miller isn't going anywhere yet. He said he'll decide whether or not to request a recount by the end of the week.
Alaska election officials confirmed they have a few hundred votes left to go, which puts Murkowski on a clear path to re-election.
She is the first Senate candidate to win a write-in campaign since Strom Thurmond in 1954. Murkowski launched the write-in campaign after a stunning loss in the state's Republican primary.