The National Republican Senatorial Committee as early as Wednesday is scheduled to hit Alaskas television airwaves with its first independent expenditure ad buy a concession that GOP nominee Joe Miller is not pulling away in the unusual three-way contest as once hoped.
A copy of the NRSCs television spot was not yet available. But with Miller locked in a tight battle with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is running as a write-in candidate, and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D), the script could be telling in terms of how committee strategists view this race two weeks out.
Republicans coalesced behind Miller after his defeat of Murkowski in the August GOP primary in an effort to prevent jeopardizing the Alaska seat. However, a series of campaign missteps by Miller, and a drop in the polls that has benefited both Murkowski and McAdams, has the NRSC concerned, forcing it to spend resources on what should otherwise be a safe Republican seat.
He is taking little counsel from the NRSC, or others, and is running his general election much the same ... as his primary. He believes that if it won him the primary, it will work in two weeks, said a Republican operative based in Washington, D.C. The NRSC is frustrated.
Millers latest self-inflicted wound occurred Sunday following a town hall meeting. An aggressive reporter for the Alaska Dispatch, a left-leaning Internet publication, shoved a video camera in Millers face and attempted to question him. The GOP nominees private security detail then arrested and handcuffed the journalist, Tony Hopfinger. The event, like Millers other mistakes, has captivated headlines in Alaska and distracted from his campaign message.
The most recent survey, an automated one-day poll from Rasmussen, had Miller at 35 percent, Murkowski at 34 percent and McAdams at 27 percent.
Alaska political operatives are split on the viability of Murkowskis write-in bid.
Independent pollster Ivan Moore said that surveying a voters intent is more reliable than attempting to gauge what an individual will do physically once in the voting booth, as Murkowskis name will not be on the ballot. However, a GOP consultant also based in Alaska said the Murkowski campaigns voter-education efforts have been pervasive and that the Last Frontier is the kind of small-population state ripe for a write-in to succeed.
Early voting began Monday, and the Murkowski campaign sounded increasingly confident that a campaign initially seen as a long shot would prevail.
Were not the establishment anymore, were the ones bucking the system, Murkowski campaign spokesman Steve Wackowski said.
Murkowskis strategy is to present herself as the only viable alternative to an extreme Miller, and in doing so siphon Democratic votes and the support of left-leaning independents from McAdams, while garnering GOP support from establishment and business-oriented Republicans wary of their nominees opposition to pork barrel spending.
After first agreeing to answer questions for this story, the Miller campaign did not respond to a request for comment. But Alaska political strategists, emphasizing the unconventional nature of their states politics, offered potential outcomes for Millers prospects in the final two weeks of the midterm campaign that were both positive and negative.
Moore noted that a red flag for Miller is that his personal favorability ratings have dropped along with his ballot test numbers. Moore said this could be a problem if the contest remains tight. In fact, in a Public Policy Polling survey taken Oct. 910, just 35 percent of respondents viewed Miller favorably, with 58 percent viewing him unfavorably.
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