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The Alaskan Republican Party “stands ready to embrace Lisa Murkowski” as the winner of the Senate race and has asked opponent Joe Miller to withdraw, the Associated Press reported Wednesday night.
“We call on Joe Miller to respect the will of the voters and end his campaign in a dignified manner,” state GOP chair Randy Ruedrich said Wednesday. The state GOP had backed Miller in the race against the incumbent Murkowski, who lost the GOP primary to Miller in August.
Murkowski was poised to declare victory in her historic write-in campaign. She leads the race 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, the AP called the race Wednesday for Murkowski, who was scheduled to make an “exciting announcement” Wednesday night in Anchorage.
The Alaska Republican would be the first person elected to the Senate through a write-in campaign since 1954.
Miller may ask for a recount. His campaign is also 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.
He told Fox News on Wednesday that he was "less cautiously optimistic” than before.
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 received 20 write-in votes.