WASHINGTON — Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller on Thursday picked up the endorsement of FreedomWorks, the conservative Washington, D.C.-based group that has transformed the loosely organized tea party movement into a force on the right.
Miller also continued to get a boost from another big name on the right, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who lashed out at Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in bid in a fundraising appeal sent out Thursday afternoon. DeMint called on his supporters to help him raise $150,000 for Miller, who faces Democrat Scott McAdams and Murkowski.
DeMint in his e-mail complained about his fellow Senate Republicans, who yesterday decided Murkowski could keep her post as the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee even though they're unhappy she's still in the Senate race as a write-in candidate.
DeMint, who has backed Miller and other candidates with tea party ties, fumed about that move in the e-mail sent out by his political action committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund. He makes no mention of McAdams.
In the e-mail, DeMint said he spoke out Thursday against Murkowski and moved to replace her on the committee, "but the good ol' boys Senate club, which always protects its own, prevailed. The motion was adopted by secret ballot, and the final tally was not disclosed," he wrote.
"Rather than taking away Murkowski's leadership position on the committee, Senate Republicans decided to let her keep it," he wrote. "One senator after another stood up to argue in favor of protecting her place on the committee -- a position she will no doubt use in her campaign against Joe Miller, the conservative Republican nominee."
He added: "It was bad enough to watch my colleagues work to support her in the primary after she had built a record of betraying conservative principles. But watching them back her after she left the party and launched a campaign against the Republican nominee was more than I could bear."
Murkowski hasn't switched parties. "She's a Republican," said campaign spokesman Steve Wackowski.
Although she's launched a write-in bid against a Republican, Murkowski has said she continues to identify as a Republican and would continue to caucus with Senate Republicans. On Thursday, the head of the Senate Republican Conference, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, said that Murkowski remains a member of the conference.