Anti-incumbent fever apparently spread to Alaska, where Tea Party upstart and Sarah Palin favorite Joe Miller leads Sen. Lisa Murkowski by 2,000 votes in the Republican Senate primary, with 429 out of 438 precincts reporting.
Even after the full tally is in, the race could remain up in the air for some time, as the Alaska Division of Elections reported that just 7,600 of a requested 16,000 absentee ballots had been returned as of Monday night. The ballots that have been received won't be counted for another six days.
Miller, a Kansas-born war hero and West Point
graduate, leads despite being outspent 20-1 by Murkowski, who was seeking her second full term. She was appointed to the seat in 2002 to succeed her father, Frank Murkowski, who went on to become governor.
The 43-year-old Miller has ridden a wave of Tea Party support while attacking the senator as a big-spending Washington insider. He got the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a longtime Murkowski foe, who made last-minute robo-calls accusing the senator of voting "with the Democrats more than any Republican up for re-election this year."
Miller, should his lead hold, will face Democrat Scott McAdams in the November general election. McAdams, the mayor of Sitka, won the Democratic primary against Frank Vondersaar and Jacob Seth Kern.