Joe Miller confident Sen. Murkowski won't launch independent bid

Alaska Senate nominee Joe Miller said Sen. Lisa Murkowski would be going back on her word if she were to launch a write-in or third-party bid this November.

Miller, who rode a late wave of Tea Party-fueled momentum to a stunning upset of Murkowski in the GOP primary earlier this month, said in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday that he doesn't expect her to make such a move.

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He cited Murkowski's pre-primary pledge to back the eventual GOP nominee.

"The last time we addressed this issue was during a forum before the primary and the senator said unequivocally that she would honor the primary results," Miller said. "We expect her to keep that commitment and we look forward to working with her."

Miller's comments come as Murkowski moves closer to a decision on an independent write-in bid this fall.

Late Wednesday a Murkowski campaign spokesman confirmed that the senator is "very much considering" a write-in bid against Miller and Democratic nominee Scott McAdams.

Murkowski also has looked at the possibility of running on the Libertarian Party line. The senator met with the party's Senate nominee Tuesday. But a source close to the party said the chances of Libertarians agreeing to allow Murkowski to run on their ballot line were "close to zero." That leaves an independent write-in bid as Murkowski's last option.

Miller dismissed both the talk of a Murkowski independent bid and the electoral threat the incumbent could pose if she decided to remain in the race.

"Frankly, we're not terribly concerned," Miller said. "We've got a message that resonates broadly and we're moving forward."

Miller claimed momentum across the state for his message of fiscal discipline, which includes weaning Alaska off a dependence on the federal government, but he emphasized that it wouldn't be immediate. And he hit back at Democratic critics who are warning that he would do irreparable damage to the state's economy.

"It's a smooth, pragmatic transition that would allow us to be less dependent on the federal dollar," Miller said. "As the money is dialed back, the access to resources are dialed up so there's no point where Alaskans are left with less."

Democrats have worked to brand Miller an "extremist" in the mold of other Tea Party-backed candidates who have emerged from Republican primaries this election cycle. The national party has focused on Miller's stance on Social Security and Medicare, while in-state Democrats are warning that Miller would shut off the spigot when it comes to the federal dollars that keep many areas of the state afloat.

True to his Tea Party roots, Miller emphasized that the national Republican Party is a major part of the spending problem in Washington and criticized the GOP for simply trying to "slow the growth of the federal government."

"We have to take a different approach and it's going to require some courage," Miller said.

Should he make it to the Senate, Miller said he would look to Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) as mentors in the upper chamber and that he doesn't expect to be a wallflower as a Senate freshman.

"I'm certainly not going to sit back and shut up," said Miller, who suggested that if the party remains in the minority after November, Senate Republicans should be more aggressive in their use of the filibuster.

"There is a chance we'll take back the majority in November, but if we're in the minority we cannot be afraid to use the filibuster power to stop the things that are hurting this nation," he said.

Miller said it's a power that can be used to stop appropriations and de-fund aspects of President Obama's healthcare law. He called it a power the party should "zealously approach."

Murkowski backers say it's positions like those that are keeping her name in the conversation.

Alaska-based GOP consultant Jean Craciun, described the mood among many Republicans as "shock and dismay" at the prospect of Murkowski declining an independent or third-party run.

"She can absolutely do this," said Craciun. "She's widely known throughout the state and I believe she can win as a write-in."

As for pushback from the national Republican Party, Craciun said she doesn't expect that to influence Murkowski's decision at all.

National Republicans are moving swiftly behind Miller's bid in part to discourage Murkowski from forging ahead. The Miller campaign confirmed that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has made a sizable financial commitment to Miller and that the political action committee of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is donating to Miller's campaign.

-The original version of this story reported that Jean Craciun is an adviser to Murkowski. She is not. 

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