Alaska Sen. Mark Begich Tells Joe Miller to Drop Election Challenge

Dec 6, 2010 1:20pm

ABC News' Huma Khan reports: Alaska's Democratic Sen. Mark Begich today called on Joe Miller to “put Alaska interests ahead of personal ambition” and drop the challenge against incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Miller’s lawsuit challenging write-in ballots has held up official certification of the elections. If the certification doesn’t happen by January, when the new Congress convenes, Murkowski won’t be sworn in and Alaska will be missing one of its seats in the Senate.

“As many in Washington are united against securing funding for important road and public facility projects in individual states, it’s vital that Alaska have both senators putting our unique needs first and fighting for our state,” Begich said in a statement. “Without both senators, Alaska’s interests will be at risk on critical issues from energy development to job creation and reducing the national debt in a way that’s fair to Alaskans.”

Murkowski is leading Miller by 10,328 votes, but the Tea Party-backed candidate is challenging many of the write-in ballots on the grounds that they should not be counted if they are misspelled. The Alaska Elections Division decided that ballots that clearly should voter intent would be counted.

Miller, for his part, isn’t backing down. He recently told the Associated Press that he is "more convinced than ever that this is the right fight, not for Joe Miller but for Alaska."

UPDATE: Miller attacked Begich back, saying late Monday that the Democratic senator should "get back to work and stop wasting time in D.C." The Sarah Palin-backed candidate denied his legal challenge was related to personal ambition.

"What is vital is that the people of Alaska can trust the election process," Miller said in a statement. "The Miller campaign has stated repeatedly, all we want is for all the votes to be counted in accordance with Alaska Statutes."

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