Sen. Lisa Murkowksi, claiming an improbable write-in victory in Alaska's Senate race, signaled her independence Thursday and said voters in the state rejected the politics of anger in choosing her over a tea party candidate endorsed by Sarah Palin.
"The numbers are what they are and they clearly indicate Alaskans have not only spoken, they have written it down," she said in an interview from Anchorage with NBC's "Today" show.
Murkowski's ultra-conservative Republican opponent, Joe Miller, has yet to concede, but the Associated Press called the race for the incumbent on Wednesday -- more than two weeks after the election -- as the official count of write-in ballots showed her with a 10,000-vote margin. Miller has demanded a hand recount and has a legal challenge pending over misspelled names on some of the write-in ballots.
Murkowski isn't waiting. "Against all odds," she told supporters Wednesday, "we, as Alaskans, made history." She is the first Senate candidate since 1954 to win as a write-in. "Imagine," she said, "over 100,000 people who wrote-in the same name."
She told NBC Thursday that her triumph "was not a Republican campaign" but an effort that brought together independents, Democrats and Republicans. Murkowski has said she will sit with the GOP caucus on Capitol Hill, even though the leadership sided with Miller after he defeated her in Alaska's primary. But she is a moderate who was elected as an independent and has said she does not share the fervor of some partisans who say they want President Obama to fail.
Asked by "Today" host Matt Lauer what her victory says about the impact of Palin -- her political rival -- Murkowski didn't answer directly, but seemed to allude to Palin's combative style. In the election, she said voters had stated that "we don't want governance based on anger or fear. We want governance that comes about when people reach across the table."
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