Lisa Murkowski, Incumbent Underdog and 'Dark Horse'

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Today in the New York Times, William Yardley paints Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign as a prototypical underdog story -- except that Murkowski, of course, is not an underdog. She's an incumbent.

After shocking the political establishment by losing Alaska's GOP primary to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller, Murkowski decided to risk her political career by running as a write-in. The odds against her are extremely steep, but Yardley finds "plenty" of Alaskans, "from analysts to many rank-and-file Republicans," who think she can pull it off. Why?

Because in a matter of weeks, she has morphed from establishment incumbent to renegade underdog. For many, it might seem crushing to go from sitting senator to plaintive write-in, but Ms. Murkowski is using it to her advantage, painting herself as the maverick in this race. ...

"I failed as a candidate with my campaign in ensuring that Alaskans understood the urgency and why it was important that I retain this seat," the senator told a crowd of supporters who gathered here last week. "And further I failed in defending my record and quite honestly allowed it to be trashed there towards the end."

"I will not let you down again," Ms. Murkowski said to rising applause.

The senator is making the rounds in Alaska and focusing on the logistics necessary to win a write-in race: 

With five weeks to go, her campaign staff is being overhauled, with veterans of the 2004 race arriving in Alaska. Lawyers are also joining to help oversee what, if the race is close, could be a protracted and bitter vote count.

Ms. Murkowski said in an interview that the campaign is considering ideas like jingles and rubber bracelets to teach voters how to spell her name and fill in the oval beside "write-in" on the ballot.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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