Conservative political phenom Joe Miller is warning that the national Republican establishment is dispatching attorneys to aid incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the looming battle over absentee votes in Alaska's GOP Senate primary, adding: "It concerns us anytime that somebody lawyers up and tries to pull an Al Franken, if you will."
Republican officials confirmed Thursday that Sean Cairncross, the chief counsel for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is traveling to Alaska to help Murkowski prepare for the absentee-ballot count on Aug. 31.
"We're up against a machine," Miller told Fox News Thursday evening. "Clearly, they're putting their pressure to bear. But I think we're going to prevail in the end."
Miller stunned political insiders Tuesday when he appeared to edge out Murkowski for the GOP Senate nomination, despite the fact that she outspent his campaign by an estimated 10-to-1 margin.
With all Alaskan precincts reporting in, Miller has a 1,668 vote lead. However, an estimated 7,600 absentee ballots remain to be counted.
Some observers have speculated Miller may be at a disadvantage in the absentee balloting, because absentee ballots were mailed in before the last-minute surge in voter sentiment that appeared to put Miller over the top.
But Miller, a West Point graduate who was awarded a Bronze Star in the first Gulf War, told Fox News Thursday evening that "we feel pretty good about those [absentee ballots]."
Explained Miller: "A high percentage of those are military. We've done very well of course with the military given that I'm a vet, obviously very supportive of veterans' issues."
Miller added however that there appears to be "some game-play going on here with the national Republican Senatorial Committee meddling in our primary election."
Miller said his No. 1 concern at this point is to ensure that all votes cast are counted accurately and fairly.
"It concerns us anytime that somebody lawyers up and tries to pull an Al Franken, if you will," Miller told Fox. "We are very concerned that there may be some attempt here to skew the results."
In November 2008, Franken initially trailed incumbent GOP Sen. Norm Coleman by over 700 votes in Minnesota's Senate race. During the marathon recount battle that ensued, Coleman's lead steadily evaporated as ballots were challenged by each side's attorneys. Franken was ultimately declared the victor by 312 votes.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Murkowski had requested the help of Cairncross in preparing for the upcoming recount.
Miller said he hasn't seen any suspicious vote-counting activity yet, and expressed confidence that he has a volunteer network "second to none" to help him counter any effort to tip the scales. But he made it clear he does not welcome the involvement of the national Republican establishment on behalf of the well-connected Murkowski.
"Lawyering up with a team of folk from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, it makes you scratch your head and say 'What's really going on here?'" said Miller.
Miller told Fox his campaign "can use as much help as we can get, not just by the volunteer base but also by funding."
Asked what resources he plans to rely on, Miller said: "The Alaskan people. That's what's always been behind us. That's why we've polled the results that have amazed people across the United States."
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