Commentary: Murkowski going against history with write-in campaign

I cast my first vote in August 1964, a college student home for the summer. There were no write-ins for statewide office.

Since then, there have been three major write-ins — in '68 and '78 and '98. Now Lisa Murkowski is running the fourth.

Although spread over decades, these write-ins -- two for governor, two for U.S. senator -- share a common characteristic: The candidates who launched them refused to accept the primary election returns.

A friend calls such write-ins "attempting a comeback through the loser's bracket."

In 1968, challenger Mike Gravel defeated Sen. Ernest Gruening. The 81 year-old Gruening had been at the center of Alaska public life for almost 30 years as governor, senator and a leader of the statehood movement. When the voters said "No more" he said "No Way." Gravel crushed him in November.

In 1978, former governor Wally Hickel lost a primary bid to defeat incumbent Jay Hammond. The vote count was close and chaotic. On election night, Hickel thought he won. So there was more than sour grapes to his write-in, which inspired intense passion but nevertheless failed.

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