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Democrats see an opening in Alaska Senate race

Lisa Murkowski, who lost to 'tea party' favorite Joe Miller -- who has imploded during the campaign -- is waging a tough write-in campaign. This could work out well for third-place candidate Scott McAdams.

October 31, 2010|By Michael Muskal

With Alaska’s senatorial race having turned into a mess for voters, candidates and, above all, prognosticators, Democrats have geared up to make a race of what had been a sure Republican seat, though who exactly is going to sit in it has been unclear.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has sent more than $160,000 to its candidate, Scott McAdams, once a solid third in the unconventional three-way race for the seat now held by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who lost her party’s nomination to a “tea party” movement favorite, Joe Miller. Murkowski is waging a write-in campaign, and some polls show her leading in the general election Nov. 2.

The dust-up in Alaska may have created an opening for them,  Democrats, insist. “We believe that Scott McAdams actually has a real chance of winning this race. Mr. Miller has obviously plummeted because it's about ideology versus about Alaska,” Sen. Robert Menendez, of New Jersey, said Sunday on ABC.

Meanwhile the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report on Sunday reevaluated the race.“Even after losing the GOP primary, Sen. Lisa Murkowski appears to have the advantage in the race. But if there are complications with her write-in candidacy, there is a narrow chance that Democrat Scott McAdams could win the seat.

“McAdams wouldn’t have a shot in a two-way race, but he could prevail if Murkowski and GOP nominee Joe Miller divide the Republican vote,” the report said.

Alaska’s senatorial race offers the Democrats a rare chance for a clear net gain in the Senate, where they are now the majority but where Republicans are threatening to gain influence. Most polls show the GOP  picking up seats but not enough to win a majority, which would require a net gain of 10 seats.

Which is why Democrats are hoping that McAdams, who is on the ballot, now has a better shot because of the electoral confusion and the write-in campaign by Murkowski. Write-in campaigns are always procedurally tough even if the candidate is popular.

When Miller won the primary, he was considered a shoo-in, and there was talk of a tea-party caucus of new GOP senators helping push Republicans even further to the right.

But Miller has imploded during the campaign, during which there were questions about whether he had accepted government benefits of the kind he was running against and whether he misused government resources in 2008.

michael.muskal@latimes.com
twitter.com/LATimesmuskal

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