Alaska Senate Race: Too Close to Call

Sarah Palin heading to town to help Republican Joe Miller.

Oct. 28, 2010 — -- Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller, a lawyer and father of eight, looked to be Alaska's giant killer, but suddenly tonight he is on the ropes in a race too close to call.

Miller took out powerful Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the primary and has had Sarah Palin's vocal support, yet he is running neck-and-neck with Murkowski, a candidate who doesn't even have her name on the ballot.

"I am still in David and Goliath battle," Miller told ABC News. "I think any time you try and dislodge power, you are going to have a fight."

At a debate Wednesday, the Alaska Senate race became an all-out grudge match.

GOP write-in candidate Murkowski, Tea Party-backed Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams let the accusations fly one last time.

"Are you flip-flopping or what's the deal?" Miller asked Murkowski.

Murkowski vs. Miller

Murkowski challenged Miller about his stance on Social Security and ethical violations at a previous job.

"I am somewhat confused with the response earlier this year, that you were quoted saying that Social Security needs to be eliminated," Murkowski told Miller.

Miller denied that he wants to eliminate Social Security, but in previous campaign speeches he has said that Social Security violates the "mandates of the Constitution." He said spending needs to be reined in and that the powers of the federal government should be limited to those explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution.

Miller's Missteps

Miller's campaign has been dragged down by controversies.

One of those missteps includes Miller's staff handcuffing a liberal blogger last week. Blogger Tony Hopfinger was detained after chasing down Miller with a video camera at a town hall meeting to ask him questions about allegations he'd used government computers for political purposes.

Hopfinger was released by Alaska police. Those allegations would be verified a few days later.

On Tuesday, an Alaska court released records that showed Miller admitted to authorities that he had lied about improperly using government computers when he worked as a borough attorney. Miller tried to cover up the use of co-workers' computers to engage in a political poll, to make it look as if others were doing it.

In a rare interview, Miller told ABC News that he's not worried that the embarrassing disclosure will impact his credibility with voters.

"Well, holy cow, if you look at my opponent, she lied today at the debate," Miller said. "I'm just saying all of us are human, we all make mistakes. I think the question is, who is going to acknowledge their mistake and admit it. Now, I've done that."

Still, Miller acknowledged that his missteps have given Murkowski fuel.

Murkowski's Write-In Woes

Murkowski upstart write-in campaign is rising fast, but not without trouble.

In ads, she's tried to give voters a virtual how-to guide to write in her name, which her own campaign misspelled on one TV ad.

The incumbent caught a break late Wednesday when the Alaska Supreme Court blocked a lower court's order and ruled that voters may see a list of write-in candidates when they hit the polls.

Still, at the "Snow City Cafe," an Anchorage favorite, Murkowski supporters knew the write-in is a challenge.

"I wonder if there is a problem if people misspell her name and her votes won't count. I'm concerned," one voter said.

ABC News asked another supporter how to spell Murkowski's name.

The voter's response: "Murowski"-- the wrong answer.

That's why the campaign is now handing out wrist bands as makeshift cheat sheets. The bands read, "Murkowski, fill it in, write it in."

Palin Helps Miller

While Murkowski worries about voters spelling her name, her rival, Miller, is putting his best hope in Alaska's most famous political voice, Sarah Palin. She's headlining a Miller event tonight.

"Of course, she's more important than other supporters. She carries a great deal of weight even in this state," he said.

Palin on Presidential Bid

Palin is pushing hard for a Tea Party victory in her own backyard. She addressed her own ambitions in an "Entertainment Tonight" interview airing later today.

"I have not decided what I'm going to do in 2012. I don't think any of the potential candidates have. If there's nobody else to do it, of course, I would believe that we should do this," Palin told "Entertainment Tonight."

As Election Day nears, it's possible that votes for Miller and Murkowski could cancel each other out and hand the race to a little-known Democrat, Scott McAdams.

Polls suggest it's a tight race, with analysts saying that any of the three candidates have a good shot at winning. There's also uncertainty surrounding the write-in process.

If Murkowski wins, she'll be the first write-in candidate elected to the Senate since 1954.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.