Lisa Murkowski Makes History, Wins Alaska Senate Race But Joe Miller Not Conceding


The only other person to win a U.S. Senate seat in a write-in campaign was Strom Thurmond, who ran in South Carolina in 1954. No write-in candidate has ever been successful in Alaska.

Murkowski went quickly from the bottom to the top. She lost in a brutal primary against Miller, a virtual unknown, who received an important endorsement from Palin and whose coffers were filled by the Tea Party Express, which helped several other candidates to victory.

Miller painted Murkowski as a Washington insider who supported President Obama's agenda and programs like the $787 billion stimulus bill.

Even though she eventually lost to the Tea Party candidate in one of the biggest upsets of the primaries, Murkowski wouldn't give up. She waged a write-in campaign on the Republican ballot and spearheaded a campaign -- funded mostly by her own money -- that focused on not only her record but getting voters to remember the spelling of her name.

AP Projects Lisa Murkowski Wins Alaska Senate Race

Miller, meanwhile, dropped in the polls as he was dogged by scandals involving his time as an attorney at the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Miller admitted he used his employers equipment to voice his opposition to then-Republican party chairman Randy Ruedrich.

Miller was also accused by his opponents of hypocrisy. The candidate was an outspoken critic of federal programs even though he and his family received Medicaid. Miller, a staunch critic of big government and entitlement programs, also accepted federal farm subsidies and low-income hunting and fishing licenses, according to local reports.

Miller has continuously fought the results of the write-in ballots. He currently has two lawsuits pending against the Alaska Elections Division. One claiming that their decision to count misspelled ballots if they show voter intent is unconstitutional, and a second one seeking voter rolls from some precincts.

Murkowski received a lukewarm reception from the Republican leadership when she returned to Washington, D.C. on Monday. The senator was stripped of her leadership post when she announced her write-in campaign, even as GOP leaders secretly prepared for the possibility of Miller's downfall.

The incumbent senator had heavy criticism for her opponents like Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint.

"I think some of the Republicans in the Congress feel pretty strongly that he and his actions potentially cost us the majority by encouraging candidates that ended up not being electable," Murkowski told Politico Tuesday.

ABC News' Michael S. James contributed to this report.

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