Alaska Republican Joe Miller said he is leaning toward once again seeking his party's nomination for Senate — likely to the chagrin of some GOP leaders in Anchorage and Washington, D.C.
“Certainly those in the establishment of the Republican Party aren’t going to be terribly excited to see me,” Miller said in an interview with CQ Roll Call last week.
Miller said he's already met with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran, a fellow Kansas native, and described their conversation as “frank.”
In 2010, the attorney and tea party favorite won the GOP Senate nomination by defeating Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. After the primary, national Republicans publicly supported Miller, but his campaign quickly faltered in the general election and Murkowski won re-election as a write-in candidate.
Last week, Miller launched an exploratory committee to challenge Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, a top GOP target in 2014. He's currently shoring up grass-roots support and donations to ensure he has what it takes to win it all this time.
“This is a serious approach — one that I believe will probably result in a run,” Miller said.
Before making a final decision, Miller intends to speak with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who endorsed him in 2010.
“I don’t have any commitments from her at this point, but certainly we would love to have that support,” he said.
Miller will not be alone in the GOP primary, as Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell is actively exploring a bid and is likely to run. Treadwell is the favorite of the state's more established Republicans.
A couple of other Republicans are also eyeing the race to take on Begich, who is one of five incumbent Democrats running in a state President Barack Obama lost in 2012. However, Begich, who defeated Republican Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008, has tenaciously prepared for his first re-election, and Alaska Republicans privately concede he won't be an easy out.
(Read more about Senate fundraising in Roll Call: Senators Raise Big Bucks Early to Combat Super PACs)
“We’re under no illusion. This is again another David and Goliath battle,” Miller said, citing Begich’s $1.5 million campaign war chest. “We’ve got a fight on our hands and we’ve got to make sure we’re well structured, we have a proper plan, we’ve got the funding, the grass-roots support that makes this a successful run.”
Miller’s 2010 campaign was dogged by distractions of its own making — including, when his security detail handcuffed a liberal blogger at a campaign event. Miller maintained in the interview that he had nothing to do with that event and said he believes the guard was actively working against him, based on media reports.
There was also the grave mishandling of a story about his suspension from the Fairbanks North Star Borough Attorney’s office for the misuse of official computers. The report was released a week before the election.
"Don’t get me wrong — I’m not in any way trying to say external forces caused all of our issues,” Miller said. “We’ve learned a heck of a lot from that experience, and we’re absolutely going to be prepared to ensure that some of those same pitfalls don’t occur again."