Joe Miller, the Republican candidate who is poised to knock off Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) in a primary contest, said Thursday he is concerned she will launch a protracted legal battle to save her seat.
Miller, an Iraq war veteran who received the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), emerged from the election Tuesday night with a narrow lead over Murkowski, an incumbent who assumed the seat from her father.
But officials are still counting absentee ballots in the close race, and a lawyer for the GOP Senate campaign committee is heading to Alaska to assist the senator.
Alaska officials will start counting absentee ballots next Tuesday, but observers expect a protracted process to determine the winner.
Miller was referring to the 2008 Minnesota Senate contest that pitted now-Sen. Al Franken (D) against then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R). Coleman's razor-thin lead the morning after election night triggered an automatic recount that resulted in an eight-month legal battle.
The candidate expressed concern specifically about the lawyer sent to help Murkowski.
"You know we are concerned," he said. "We’ve got, I think, some game play going on here with the national Republican Senatorial Committee meddling in our primary election.”
Democrats have pounced on the election results, painting them as an example of GOP infighting that could do in the party in the November midterms.
They have also portrayed the election as another potential victory for a Tea Party-backed candidate, a group which Democrats have said is outside the mainstream.
The primary campaign was contentious and drew national attention in its final days due to Palin's involvement. Murkowski was critical of Palin for writing a Facebook note calling her part of the problem in Washington and referencing the fact that she was appointed to the seat by her father, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski, who was unseated by Palin in 2006.
For his part, Miller expressed confidence in the support he has received and predicted he would emerge victorious, barring any "game play."
"But, we believe as soon as the votes get counted, if there is not any game play, we are going to come out where we are now.”