Joe Miller, who has waged a long battle to wrest away Lisa Murkowski's U.S. Senate seat, now says he will not oppose state certification of her election. However, the tea party-backed Republican nominee said on his website
late Sunday that he will press his federal lawsuit aiming for a recount of the Nov. 2 results because "the integrity of the election is vital and ultimately the rule of law must be our standard."
Miller defeated Murkowski in the GOP primary in August -- after receiving the endorsement of former governor Sarah Palin -- only to lose when the incumbent staged a write-in campaign in the general election. He has contested the results, based on misspellings or other irregularities on more than 8,000 ballots. But he said he decided to withdraw his opposition to the certification of the election in order to ensure "that Alaska will have its full delegation seated when the 112th Congress convenes next month." His decision to continue his court case, he added, "will allow Alaskans to focus on bringing fairness and transparency to our elections process without distraction of the certification issue."
Miller's challenge of the write-in votes is based on a strict reading of the state election law, which says that a candidate's name must be spelled correctly and that an accompanying oval on the ballot be properly filled in. The state election board, backed by subsequent court rulings, has said that voter intent should be the guiding force in counting the votes.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline
had stayed certification of Murkowski's election while Miller continued to pursue his challenge, but is now expected to lift that stay.
Unofficial tallies show Murkowski with a lead of over 10,000 votes. Even if the 8,000 challenged ballots were thrown out, her victory would stand.