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Updated: 4:07 p.m.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski has taken an insurmountable lead in her race for re-election, the Associated Press determined Wednesday, making the Alaska Republican the first person elected to the Senate through a write-in campaign since 1954.
As of Tuesday night, when the counting of write-in ballots was completed, Murkowski led her opponent, Republican Joe Miller, by more than 10,000 votes, including 8,153 that were awarded to her after a Miller challenge. With only about 700 overseas ballots left to count, Miller was unable to take the lead, although his campaign has hinted it will request a recount.
Murkowski left the lame-duck session on Capitol Hill to return to Alaska on Wednesday to make an "exciting announcement," according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Miller's campaign is awaiting a ruling on a federal lawsuit that it filed last week, claiming the state Division of Elections was violating state law in its use of discretion in determining voter intent on write-in ballots. Miller argues that ballots need to spell "Lisa Murkowski" exactly as it appeared on her declaration of candidacy in order to qualify.
Murkowski would still lead by about 2,000 votes if those ballots were thrown out, but as the Miller campaign has said, that margin is much smaller and would give him a better chance to overtake Murkowski in a recount.
Murkowski has 100,868 votes to Miller’s 90,448, and he also recieved 20 write-in votes. Murkowski decided to launch a long-shot write-in campaign after the Fairbanks lawyer defeated her in the GOP primary in August.