Sen. Murkowski and Tea Party locked in battle over attack ads

It's already getting ugly in Alaska's Senate race where the Tea Party Express and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are battling over the accuracy of the group's new attack ad.

The California-based group rolled out two new general-election ads Monday, one of which makes a litany of charges that Murkowski labels false. 

The spot says Murkowski "tried to influence the absentee vote count" after the GOP primary with Tea Party-backed Joe Miller, and she set out to "manipulate the Libertarian Party into giving her their slot on the ballot."

In a statement, Murkowski labeled the ad "vile," and her campaign is now warning television stations in the state not to run it.

"Alaskans deserve a better political discourse than this,” said Murkowski. "This ad is vile. Accusing me of influencing the absentee voter count is dirty politics at it worst."

The campaign sent a letter Monday to nine Alaska TV stations that said the outlets have "a legal and a moral obligation" to not allow the ad to be broadcast on their airwaves. 

"A copy of the ad released today by the group shows the ad is a false, misleading and deceptive advertisement concerning the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Alaska," wrote Timothy McKeever, a lawyer for the Murkowski campaign. "Because the ad is incorrect an attempt by the sponsors to mislead Alaskan voters, you have both a legal and a moral obligation to not broadcast the ad." 

The chairman of Alaska's Libertarian Party also told the AP the party did not feel manipulated by Murkowski. The Libertarian Party was first approached by Murkowski supporters about the ballot line. 

The Tea Party Express fired back in a mocking press release with the headline, "Tea Party Express admits mistake in new ad opposing Lisa Murkowski."

The release said the group stands by its ad, claiming their only omission was "the fact that Lisa's campaign team also looked into a possible Independent bid for Senate, until they discovered that the filing period for Independent candidates had closed." 

"There was only so much time we had in our ad to list all the means Lisa had considered to disrespect the will of the voters who rejected her candidacy in the GOP primary," Tea Party Express political strategist Sal Russo said in a statement. "The reason Lisa Murkowski is so upset with our new TV ad is that it highlights her greatest weakness, which is the fact that she is motivated to desperately cling to power rather than approaching governance with a servants heart."

During the primary, the Tea Party Express spent some $550,000 on radio and TV ads aiding Joe Miller's primary bid. And after Murkowski launched her write-in campaign last month, the group pledged to do "whatever it takes" to defeat her this fall.