Tea Party's Joe Miller Set to Shake Up Alaska Politics Again

Image: Tea Party's Joe Miller Set to Shake Up Alaska Politics Again

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 03:25 PM

By Sharon Churcher

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A tea party favorite who challenged Alaska's incumbent Republican senator with the backing of Sarah Palin is threatening to cause new chaos in the state's Republican establishment.

Father of eight Joe Miller, 46, was an obscure lawyer, Politico Magazine recalls, until he received Palin's support for his 2010 campaign to oust Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

He defeated her in the primary, but then lost the general election when she ran as a write-in candidate.

Now he has thrown his hat into the 2014 race, in which the GOP is gunning for the Democrat who is the state's junior senator, Mark Begich.

Polls show Miller has little chance of defeating two considerably more experienced candidates for the Republican nomination, Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell.

Treadwell is the Alaska lieutenant governor. Sullivan served as the state attorney general and its national resources commissioner, and was a White House adviser to President George W. Bush before being appointed assistant secretary of state for economic, energy, and business affairs.

The press secretary for Joe Miller, Randy DeSoto, emailed Newsmax that the politician lost the race to Murkowski by a small margin (certified final results show her at 39.06 percent of votes cast to his 35.11 percent). Any suggestion that he doesn't have a good chance in the race are ill-informed, he wrote.

“He has a very good chance of winning the primary and the general, and he has given no indication that he will run as an independent,” said Mr. DeSoto.

Some pundits speculate he may decide to run as an independent. If this happens, he is likely to peel away a substantial share of the conservative vote. His name recognition is considerable, thanks not only to Palin but a news site he runs, Restoring Liberty.

The Weekly Standard has reported that one poll shows that if he were pitted against Sullivan — the current favorite in the GOP primary — and Begich, Begich would romp to victory with 45 percent of the vote. Miller would get about 10 percent, while Sullivan would receive 33 percent.

Writing in Politico Magazine, University of Alaska political scientist Forrest A. Nabors says this is a thoroughly ironic situation for the Republicans.

The state historically is red, he points out, and Begich only narrowly won his Senate seat in 2008 after Ted Stevens, the Republican incumbent, was convicted of graft, a conviction that was later vacated.

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