Incumbent Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski will remain in the U.S. Senate after beating Tea-Party backed, Republican candidate Joe Miller today. Her victory is historic: She is the first Senate candidate in over 50 years to win a write-in campaign, notes the Associated Press. The last candidate to do so? Strom Thurmond in 1954.
Miller has vowed to take legal action to fight what he contends may be an unfair tally.
Murkowski overcame a longshot challenge in this campaign, unexpectedly losing the Republican primary to Joe Miller, and then deciding to move forward with a write-in campaign. It seemed an improbable win as Joe Miller "enjoyed" the immense support of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" Sarah Palin in his bid for Senate.
The Associated Press calls Miller's loss a "major rebuke" for Sarah Palin and indeed her support for Miller was vocal, strong and unyielding.
It was also, clearly, not helpful.
The Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Joe Miller in their sweeping endorsements of the most extreme anti-choice candidates this election season. The SBA List ran ads in support of Miller, telling voters that Miller supports rescinding the federal health reform law which equates to rescinding "taxpayer-funded abortion."
Miller joined other Tea Party favorites, Rand Paul, Christine O'Donnell and others who object to legal abortion access in almost all cases. In fact, Miller believes that women or girls made pregnant as a result of rape or incest should be forced to give birth to their rapists' babies.
Senator Murkowski has a mixed record on reproductive health and rights. According to her voting record, NARAL Pro-Choice America calls her anti-choice. She voted for the Nelson/Hatch Amendment in the health reform bill which banned abortion coverage in health care reform. Her 2009 record shows she did, however, vote against the Global Gag Rule which bans any U.S. aid from going to groups which provide, refer for or discuss abortion in any way.
Looking ahead, Murkowski says she will caucus with Republicans though she ran as an Independent. What that will look like for Alaskans is hard to say but the Juneau Empire makes clear she'll likely frustrate those on both sides of the aisle:
"Murkowski can be a true independent even if she does routinely caucus with the GOP. She'll likely be a significant swing vote on some important issues. Whenever she does cross party lines, she'll prove Miller was right when he claimed she wasn't conservative enough. And when she sticks with the GOP it'll be evidence for many Democrats she isn't moderate enough. In both cases she'll have more explaining to do because she will be representing a broader based constituency than she had been."
And although it's hard to say where the stars will align, with Congress having lost more women this go around than it has in decades, at least one more female Senator remains.