Sen. Lisa Murkowski has reached the end of a dramatic, bizarre, historically confounding path to re-election. Two weeks after the midterm elections, the AP has called Alaska's Senate seat for Murkowski. She joins South Carolina's Strom Thurmond as one of two U.S. senators to win election via write-in.
Just two months ago, Murkowski's loss in her state's Republican primary was one of the harshest humblings of a politician in recent history. Now, her turnaround is a lesson in determination, luck, and the downright weirdness of Alaska politics.
To recap the mind-boggling trajectory of this race:
Back in August, few people paid attention to Alaska's Republican primary because it seemed Murkowski had it locked down. Sarah Palin was touting Tea Partier Joe Miller, and a few ears perked up when Tea Party Express announced a last-minute primary push for him. But Murkowski was so entrenched that a Miller win did not seem possible.
But then, of course, Miller won. Murkowski's camp was flabbergasted, reporters gawked at the biggest upset of an upset-filled primary season, and the Republican establishment braced itself to drop a member of its leadership and embrace her inexperienced usurper.
Before long, rumors started circulating that Murkowski wasn't ready to cave. She looked into running on a third-party ticket, but those options didn't pan out. Speculation that she might run as a write-in was quickly quashed by Washington types, who explained that a write-in bids are Herculean feats only possible on the local level. No U.S. senator had done it since Thurmond!