The Tea Party Express, fresh off an election victory in Utah, promised Wednesday that Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski would be its next victim. The group's promise of big spending to defeat her is intensifying interest in Murkowski challenger Joe Miller, a strict Constitutionalist whose views are unknown to most voters in Alaska.
Miller says he believes the federal Department of Education should be abolished and that, over the long term, the government should stop offering Social Security and Medicare. His campaign message to Republican primary voters shouts of the contrast between him and Murkowski, saying she is for abortion rights, supported a Wall Street bailout and is not in favor of repealing the "Obamacare" federal health law.
The Murkowski campaign accuses Miller of distorting her record, and the senator is clearly positioning herself for conservative voters in the primary. Murkowski gave a speech on the U.S. Senate floor Wednesday calling for repeal of the health care law and the first radio ad of her campaign talks about her votes against the economic stimulus, the health care law and funding for the community organizing group Acorn.
"We need to keep fighting to lower taxes, to shrink the size of government and to push back against the federal government's assault on Alaska," Murkowski said in the ad.
Miller said Wednesday the ad isn't honest. "She's voted like a liberal the last six years and now she wants to recast herself as a conservative," Miller said. It's the opposite tack of the Democrat running for Murkowski's seat, Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, who says she began her political career as a moderate but went right.
Murkowski needs to beat Miller in the Aug. 24 Republican primary before she can meet McAdams in the November general election. Miller has the backing of former Gov. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express, which says it will have staff in Alaska and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to boost his campaign.
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