Murkowski decision opens 3-way Senate race

by Christine Kim, AKDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska —After weeks of speculation on whether Sen. Lisa Murkowski would stay in the U.S. Senate race after losing the Republican primary to Joe Miller, Murkowski announced Friday that she will run as a write-in candidate.

One pollster says voters were shocked when Murkowski didn’t defeat Miller in the primary, and adds that Murkowski’s write-in bid will give people a chance to vote for candidates rather than parties.

Rumors of Murkowski’s candidacy swirled Friday morning, but she gave the official word shortly after 6 p.m.

“And so today, my friends, my campaign for Alaska’s future begins,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski said she conceded to Miller too soon after the Republican primary, but her announcement Friday makes it a three-way race between Murkowski, Miller and Democratic nominee Scott McAdams. Pollsters say the general election hinges on undecided voters — and that the race’s winner will be decided by that middle-of-the-road group.

“So if you look at that middle, how many voters are there in that far extreme to the right?” said Jean Craciun of the Craciun Research Group, who served as a strategic advisor to the Murkowski campaign. “(Miller) is going to need to get 50,000 more votes than he got in the primary — I predict they will need 100,000 votes to win this election.”

Strong Murkowski supporters like the Anchorage Firefighters Union, which was discouraged by the primary results, now say they are backing her in full force, pointing out the millions of federal dollars Murkowski brought to Alaska for public safety.

“Her track record is everything to us, and our firefighters as a whole have a strong philosophy that we always support those who support public safety,” said the union’s Rod Harris.

But Miller claims Murkowski backed out on a mutual pledge to support the winner of the Republican primary, in order to achieve personal success.

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