Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) officially declared victory in her write-in campaign for Senate Wednesday evening before a group of supporters in Anchorage.
"Tonight, after 8 weeks, I think we can say our miracle is here," Murkowski said hours after the AP officially declared her the winner over Tea Party-backed Republican Joe Miller, who has yet to concede the race.
It marks the first time a candidate has won election to the Senate as a write-in in more than 50 years. The last candidate to win a write-in bid was the late-Sen. Strom Thurmond (S.C.) in 1954.
"They told us that this could not be done," Murkowski said. "What a risk. But for the right thing. To hell with politics. Do what's right for Alaska."
Murkowski's unlikely triumph over Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams comes nearly two weeks after voters went to the polls. It caps a long vote-counting process that was filled with debate over voter intent, mostly concerning ballots that misspelled her last name, and featured a hand count of more than 100,000 write-in ballots.
The Miller campaign released a statement late Wednesday that made it clear the Republican is not yet ready to concede. Miller said he may ask for a full hand recount of ballots in the race.
In an interview on MSNBC Wednesday night, Murkowski suggested a recount would be counterproductive.
"All I can tell you is that over 100,000 Alaskan voters have correctly filled in the oval and written in Lisa Murkowski," she said. "That's a pretty affirmative act of the electorate here in this state."
Murkowski said in the wake of defeat, Miller is "trying to blame this, that or the other thing, but the fact of the matter is, even if we were to throw out every one of the ballots he has challenged, he still loses by the count."
The senator recalled Miller's recent pledge that he would not forge ahead with any further legal challenges if the math doesn't appear to be in his favor.
"He had said several days ago that if the numbers don't line up, he would not drag this out," she said. "So he's going to have to make that call."
The number of ballots challenged by Miller’s legal team for either improper spelling of Murkowski’s name or other irregularities stands at just over 8,000. Murkowski defeated Miller by more than 10,000 votes.
Murkowski told supporters Wednesday that the results of her Senate race show that "Alaskans have chosen the path of unity" and that she intends to head back to Washington and work with both parties.
"I left Washington D.C. this morning and I wish that I could tell you that the elections brought in a whole wave of enthusiasm and cooperation and bipartisan spirit," Murkowski joked. "I had to leave after two days. But we're going to work on that because that's what Alaskans want. That's what the American people want."