'The Gloves Are Off': Sen. Lisa Murkowski Declares Write-In Candidacy

GOP Senate leader lost to Tea Party-backed Joe Miller in primary.

ByABC News
September 17, 2010, 4:54 PM

Sept. 17, 2010— -- Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whose loss in her state's Republican primary to the Tea Party-backed Joe Miller rattled the political world, will run a general election campaign as a Republican write-in candidate, she declared today.

As supporters at a late-afternoon rally in Anchorage, Alaska, chanted, "Run, Lisa, Run," Murkowski told them, "I get the message. I hear it loud and clear, and I announce today that I will be a write-in candidate in November for the United States Senate seat that I now hold."

The incumbent senator's run sets the stage for a three-way race between her, Miller, and the Democratic candidate, Scott McAdams, mayor of Sitka, Alaska.

Unlike Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., who successfully switched from a Democrat to Independent, Murkowski will not be running as an independent and is not changing her party. Also, her name won't actually be on the ballot. Voters would have to write it in.

Political observers have called Murkowski's chances slim: No statewide candidate taking the write-in route ever has been successful in Alaska.

Murkowski acknowledged the skeptics, but insisted, "We can do it."

"Alaskans can't fill in an oval and spell M-U-R-K-O-W-S-K-I?" she asked.

As she responded to critics of her write-in chances, she also took a not-so-veiled swipe at a political rival, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who left office before her term was up.

"They tell me that this can't be done, that this is a futile effort," she said. "Well, maybe this is one time that they have met one Republican woman who won't quit on Alaska."

Murkowski conceded to newcomer Miller, who had Palin's backing, on Sept. 1 after a tough primary battle in which she outspent him by more than $2.5 million.