Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Wednesday she's confident that she's won Alaska's contentious Senate race but is starting a legal fund and bringing up election lawyers to fight an expected battle over the results. Joe Miller isn't conceding defeat, and his campaign claimed to "remain optimistic" that he'll win.
With all 438 of the state's precincts reporting on Wednesday, results show nearly 41 percent of voters cast a write-in ballot. That compares with just over 34.3 percent for Republican nominee Miller and about 23.6 percent for Democratic nominee Scott McAdams.
There were 13,439 more write-in ballots cast than votes for Miller, who ran on a tea party platform with the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The Division of Elections has received 26,306 absentee ballots so far that still need to be counted and has 10,645 questioned ballots. State elections officials also need to open the write-in ballots and count them by hand to see how many of the voters actually wrote in Murkowski's name.
But Alaskans could know sooner than expected whether Murkowski won. Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees elections, said he's moving up the opening of write-in ballots to next week. The state's original plan was to wait until Nov. 18.
"I am elated at where we are as a campaign," Murkowski said at her campaign headquarters on Wednesday afternoon. "I am feeling pretty confident right now."
Murkowski spent more than $1 million on a write-in campaign after losing to Miller in the Aug. 24 Republican primary. Alaska Native corporations spent more than $1.2 million on her behalf.
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