With the first count of nearly 11,0000 absentee and questioned ballots underway in Alaska, GOP primary frontrunner Joe Miller sought to tamp down controversy Tuesday he himself stoked a day earlier, the possibility of voting irregularities.
"We have complete confidence in...the division of elections," the Tea Party favorite told Fox's Megyn Kelly, saying that "the primary's over. We need to unify the party," this as Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees elections, said there is no evidence to support the Fairbanks attorney's claim.
The incumbent, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, released a statement Monday saying she is "astounded" that Miller would suggest that something nefarious is happening.
Elections that go down to the wire and even past the wire inevitably turn ugly with one side or both accusing the other of vote tampering or something similar, but nothing appears to be seriously awry in this case, at least not that anyone has yet found, though one Murkowski observer did inappropriately text inside a ballot room and try to bring in a back pack.
The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (NRSC) did send a lawyer in over the weekend at the request of the Murkowski campaign, according to sources, but that person has already returned to Washington with NRSC officials insisting on neutrality in the race.
Tea Party favorite Miller, a combat veteran and Yale Law School graduate, told Kelly on "America Live", he is prepared to accept a Murkowski win, as well, saying he and the incumbent have decided to support whoever wins their primary and goes on to challenge Democrat Scott McAdams. A Democratic poll released Monday showed Murkowski with far better chance against the Sitka mayor, a commanding 32-point lead, with Miller only leading by eight points.
And though some Alaska politicos have speculated that the absentees, if similar to early voting, could very well swing Murkowski's way, a well-placed Senate GOP source tells Fox, the Murkowski camp is not optimistic.
Miller clearly has some momentum and spoke on Fox like a candidate who has won, telling Kelly his campaign can appeal to both sides of the aisle, because his is "a campaign of returning power to the states," saying, "You can be a Republican, you can be a Democrat, you can be a liberal, you can be a conservative and embrace that position," adding that "the Democrats have embraced the failed policies of the Obama Administration, and in this state, there's going to be solid rejection of that."
Miller leads Murskowski by 1,668 votes. The Alaska Division of Elections says there are 10,850 absentee ballots to be counted Tuesday in Anchorage,Wasilla, Fairbanks, and Juneau, with the first results due in at approximately 11a.m. local time and then throughout the day. As of Sunday, 25,510 ballots remained to be counted, a count that will continue Friday and on Sept. 8.
If the primary does not go in Murkowski's favor, the senator's chances of retaining her seat are not good. The Libertarian Party made clear Monday that it would not accept the senator on its ticket, with party vice chairman Harley Brown telling Fox, "She's just not a Libertarian."