In Alaska's Three-Way Senate Race, It's Murkowski vs. Miller

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Ever since Tea Party dark horse Joe Miller snatched the Republican nomination from incumbent Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Senate race has been one of the most interesting in the country. Murkowski is running as a write-in candidate, making the race a three-way contest between her, Miller, and Democrat Scott McAdams. On Sunday, the three candidates debated in Anchorage, an exchange that occasionally grew heated. Here's where the players stand a week before Election Day.

  • Palin Slams Murkowski's 'Family Dynasty'...  MSNBC reports that Sarah Palin, in a fund-raising letter to Miller supporters this week, writes that "Joe Miller will fight for the people of Alaska, and this great country. Public service should be an honor not a family dynasty." She's almost certainly referring to Lisa Murkowski's father, Frank Murkowski, who as governor appointed his daughter to the Senate in 2002--and passed over Palin to do so.

  • ...And Flays Murkowski for Staying in the Race  In a widely reprinted Facebook post, Palin writes that "though Joe decisively defeated the incumbent Senator in the primary, and though she conceded the race to him, she reneged on her primary vow to not contest the will of the people. She is now running a write-in campaign bankrolled by Beltway special interests." Palin also takes Murkowski to task for "[using] Joe Miller's distinguished military service as a means to attack him"--a reference to when Murkowski asked Miller what his fellow West Point graduates would think of his recently admitted ethical lapses.

  • Others Pile On  Conservative blogger Dan Riehl writes that "this race is no longer simply about electing Joe Miller to the Senate, it should now be about defeating Lisa Murkowski and preventing her victory at all costs." Sister Toldjah joins in: "Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski... is busy trying to paint herself as a 'woman of the people'--and when she's not playing that Academy Award nomination-worthy role, she's playing the role of desperada by questioning Joe Miller's military honor."

  • Miller's Ethics Breach...  Miller has admitted that when he was a district attorney in 2008, he used company computers to conduct a poll voting against Randy Ruedrich, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, a position that Miller himself hoped to attain. Miller's father Rex told reporters that Joe "used four office computers in the office to do it, thinking this was his chance to boost numbers to get rid of Randy. He emptied the cache files on the computers so the users wouldn't know what he had done." For electioneering on company time, Miller was given a reprimand and "was suspended for three days or received a dock of three days' pay," in his own words.

  • ...And Its Impact  Tony Hopfinger, the website editor handcuffed by Miller's security detail last week, was reportedly trying to ask Miller about the 2008 incident. Alexandra Gutierrez at Salon writes that the dust-up with Hopfinger is symptomatic of Miller's troubled relationship with the press, which she says may be "driving off many of the moderate Republicans and independents he needs to win this unpredictable race." Paul Mirengoff at Power Line writes that lapses like Miller's are something the right can't afford: "The pragmatic need to elect not just conservative Republicans but conservative Republicans of integrity and strong character is especially acute in the current environment. Congress has never (to my recollection) been held in lower esteem than it is now."

  • Is McAdams in This at All?  Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo doesn't seem to think so. "Alaska, in theory, is in some question," he writes, "but it basically seems to be whether the nominated or write-in Republican wins."

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