The Other McCain

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PRIMARY ELECTION NIGHT HQ SHOCKER! Challenger Miller Upsets Murkowski in Alaska GOP Senate Primary MORE RESULTS: McCain Wins in Arizona GOP Primary; Scott Wins GOP Gubernatorial Nomination in Florida

Posted on | August 24, 2010 | 136 Comments


UPSET: Palin-Backed GOP Challenger
Defeats Murkowski, AOSHQ Declares

By Robert Stacy McCain
5:20 a.m. ET
Sen. Lisa Murkowski was defeated in Tuesday’s Republican primary by conservative challenger Joe Miller.

An endorsement by Sarah Palin, and support from pro-lifers and Tea Party activists, proved decisive in the Gulf War veteran’s hard-fought victory over Murkowski. With 77% of precincts reporting when ballot counting ended at 12:30 p.m. in Anchorage, Miller led by nearly 3,000 votes, with 52% to Murkowski’s 48%.

Murkowski refused to concede and a staffer for the Miller campaign said the results will be officially “inconclusive” until Wednesday. However, the Miller victory became official when the race was called shortly after midnight Alaska time by the Ace of Spades HQ Decision Desk.

“Based on Miller’s confidence . . . and Murkowski’s lack of it (she is not talking to reporters, but sent out a spokesman to claim ‘We’re still optimistic’), and the fact that it’s 4:00am, I’m calling it: Joe Miller wins,” said the influential conservative blogger.

Traditional media, however, continued to hold out hope for Murkowski, a pro-choice Republican who voted for the unpopular TARP bailout and had been labeled one of the  “Top 10 Senate RINOs” (Republican In Name Only) by Human Events.

In its headline, Roll Call described Murkowski as merely “imperiled,” and an Anchorage Daily News reporter named “Sean” said the incumbent was “battling for her political life.” The New York Times said she was “in a surprisingly tight race.” But Republican sources in Anchorage were more blunt, declaring Murkowski “toast” and employing obscene terms to describe just how completely she had been defeated.

Given the overwhelming GOP turnout advantage Tuesday — about 86,000 votes reported in the Republican primary, compared to about 27,000 in the Democratic primary — Miller’s victory over Murkowski almost guarantees he will be Alaska’s next U.S. Senator.

— 30 —

“Palin Power Strikes Home,” The American Spectator, July 6

EXCLUSIVE 4:20 a.m. ET: In a phone conversation from Anchorage just now, Miller campaign staffer Harmony Shields said that the results are “probably going to be inconclusive tonight,” although Miller’s lead is now nearly 3,000 votes with about two-thirds of precincts reporting, and they believe they will win.

Miller gave a short speech to the crowd at the Egan Center, thanking his volunteers. The lede of the Anchorage Daily News story:

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was battling for her political life against Republican challenger Joe Miller in early primary election returns on Tuesday night . . .

I’ll have more in a few minutes.

UPDATE 3:56 a.m. ET: Just got off the phone with Anchorage, and with 61.2% of precincts reporting:

MILLER ……………. 40,813 (51.5%)
MURKOWSKI …….. 38,484 (48.5%)

Notice that the margin has narrowed, so it’s not over yet by a long shot. I was able to speak with Joe Miller’s spokesman Randy DeSoto, who said they are “cautiously optimistic,” and said of the campaign’s tempo, “We surged here at the end. We finished strong.”

However, that might be cause for trouble for Miller if it comes down to absentee ballots. Because of that late surge, any absentee ballots that were mailed in pre-surge would tend to favor the incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Now, by the way, I’ve gotten permission to identify my source on the ground at the Egan Center in downtown Anchorage: Eric Dondero of the Libertarian Republican blog.

Also, I’ve been informed  that there is now a cup of pudding on the Ace of Spades HQ Decision Desk.

UPDATE 3:26 a.m ET: OK, first the latest numbers from my correspondent in Anchorage, where about 52% of the precincts have reported:

MILLER ……………. 32,507 (51.9%)
MURKOWSKI …….. 30,135 (48.1%)

So challenger Joe Miller’s margin is now a tad shy of 2,400 votes. While my Anchorage source was walking around the Egan Center, he bumped into a guy and introduced himself. The other guy turned out to be Harry Crawford, who was uncontested in the Democratic primary to challenge Rep. Don Young. “How you feeling?” my source asked. Crawford replied: “I got 100% — I feel pretty good!”

Anyway, so I called another source of mine — the one who originally put me in touch with the Miller campaign — and she had just gotten off the phone with someone very close to the candidate. “They think they’ve got it,” she said, and added that this person close to Miller is sad, thinking about “his hunting buddy moving away to Washington.”

That’s how confident the Miller camp is feeling at this point, but in Anchorage, the night is still young.

EXCLUSIVE 2:43 a.m. ET: Just got off the phone with Anchorage source and, with 49.8% of precincts reporting, Joe Miller now leads by more than 2,000 votes:

MILLER ……………. 32,275 (51.8%)
MURKOWSKI …….. 29,979 (48.1%)

My source at the Egan Center put me on the phone with Republican state senate candidate Ron Slepecki, who says that he believes Murkowski will pull it out. “Juneau isn’t in yet. . . . I still think she’s looking good for the win,” said Slepecki.

So there is that note of caution for Miller supporters. Meanwhile, my source says, a potentially bigger story is the huge Republican advantage in primary turnout. With about half the vote in, there were more than 60,000 votes in the GOP primary, compared to less than 25,000 in the Democratic primary.

OK, I need some coffee.

UPDATE 2:08 a.m. ET: Now 35% of precincts reporting, and Joe Miller has widened his lead over Sen. Lisa Murkowski:

MILLER ……………. 22,580 (51.4%)
MURKOWSKI …….. 21,305 (48.6%)

My Anchorage correspondent says most of these results are from the metro Anchorage area: “The bush is not in yet.” Rural “bush” Alaska is believed to be stronger for Murkowski, but that’s just a theory. Also, my correspondent reports that Miller was on the radio today really pounding Murkowski hard on the abortion issue, and the parental-consent measure on the ballot could be Miller’s ace in the hole tonight.

Thanks to the commenters updating numbers below, who are actually beating me to the punch on some of these results.

UPDATE 1:46 a.m. ET: With 32.7% of precincts reporting conservative challenger Joe Miller is leading Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski by about 800 votes, 51%-49%. Miller was endorsed by Sarah Palin, who defeated Murkowski’s father for governor in 2006.

This result was reported by phone from my Alaska correspondent, a Republican operative who can’t be named, but who is at the convention center in Anchorage. My correspondent reports that a pro-life ballot measure, to require parental consent for a minor’s abortion, is passing with 62% of the vote. Murkowski is pro-choice, and the ballot measure may have helped boost Miller in the Republican primary.

FLASHBACK July 6: Lisa Murkowski’s Palin Problem


UPDATE 8:15 a.m. ET: Good news and bad news: Boy Quayle won the AZ-3 GOP primary, where I’d supported Vernon Parker. But in AZ-8, Tea Party-backed Jesse Kelly laid a 48%-41%’s whupping on former state Sen. Jonathan Paton, the NRCC’s pet. Once again, Pete Sessions and the Republican establishment picked a loser.

UPDATE 1 a.m. ET: The interesting story in the AZ-3 GOP primary, to me, is the weak showing by Pamela Gorman, whose campaign was promoted by most of the conservative blogosphere in recent weeks. With 48% of precincts reporting, Gorman has about 8% of the vote and is in a 5th-place tie with Paulina Morris.

Of course, Fox News was totally in the tank for Boy Quayle, who is currently leading with 23% of the vote. It was shameless the way Fox booked both Quayle and his father repeatedly, and utterly ignored every other candidate in the AZ-3 primary.

UPDATE 12:20 a.m. ET: Congressional Quarterly:

McCain led 59 percent to 29 percent when the Associated Press called the race with 11 percent of precincts reporting.
Expected to face McCain in the general election is former Tucson City Councilman Rodney Glassman, who edged three others to lead the Democratic primary; final vote tallies in that race were not available. But catching McCain will be difficult for any Democrat in Republican-leaning Arizona, which hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1988.

Say hello to Libertarian Party candidate David Nolan. He’s also on Facebook.

David F. Nolan is a great American, and I’m his new best friend.

UPDATE 11:36 p.m. ET: Emphasizing that these are very early results, the AZ-3 GOP primary is currently Boy Quayle 22%, Jim Waring 19%, Steve Moak 18%, Vernon Parker 16%, Paulina Morris 8%, Pamela Gorman 7%, followed by an assortment of freaks, geeks and losers.

In the GOP Senate primary, the two-faced RINO backstabber has 59% to J.D. Hayworth’s 29%, and Fox News just called it for Senator Amnesty McLiar.

UPDATE 11:25 p.m. ET: We await results in Arizona, where a certain two-faced backtabbing RINO senator is expected to have lied his way to the GOP nomination over J.D. Hayworth, who is actually a Republican. Is an upset possible? I talked to my Scottsdale friend Barbara Espinosa, who said one of her fellow Hayworth volunteers had conducted an amateur exit poll at one precinct and reported 90% for Hayworth. FWIW.

Meanwhile, the 10-candidate GOP primary in AZ-3 is likely to be a real nail-biter. When I spoke to Barbara shortly after polls closed at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. in Arizona), Barbara was en route to the Montelucia Resort for the Vernon Parker victory celebration. We’ll see what happens . . .


UPDATE 12:01 a.m. ET: Some commenters were asking about Allen West‘s GOP primary in FL-22he won easily, and got more votes in his primary (27,000) than incumbent Rep. Ron Klein got in the Democratic primary (22,000). A very hopeful prospect for Republicans there.

Meanwhile, in FL-24, with 99% of precincts reporting, a recount is likely, although it appears that Sandy Adams has beaten Karen Diebel by a little less than 600 votes out of more than 60,000 cast.

UPDATE 10:30 p.m. — Rick Scott wins the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Nobody else has called it yet, but with 82% of precincts reporting, Scott leads Bill McCollum by 37,000 votes — a 46%-43% margin. Hard to see a miracle comeback scenario for McCollum here. To disappointed McCollum supporters, I offer this consolation: Rick Scott’s a billionaire, so nobody will have to raise money for his campaign, and you can concentrate your efforts elsewhere.

Obligatory Analytical Argle-Bargle: One of the great things about being a blogger is that you don’t have to wait for Associated Press or somebody to make an official call in a situation like this. I’m my own “Decision Desk,” and it’s over when I say it’s over.

Kinda interesting that the triumph of Marco Rubio over Charlie Crist in the GOP Senate primary was considered by the MSM as proof that right-wing extremist teabaggers had taken over the Republican Party. Yet the solidly conservative McCollum gets upset by a crypto-libertarian billionaire bald-headed freak in the GOP gubernatorial primary and that means . . .???

I dunno. Ace of Spades doesn’t know. Allahpundit doesn’t know. Ask somebody in Florida what it means. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it means Bill McCollum ran a lousy campaign and a billion dollars goes a long way in a Republican primary.

UPDATE 9:53 p.m. ET: In the 8th District, Daniel Webster has won with 40% of the vote in a seven-candidate GOP primary for the right to face Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Ouchebag) on Nov. 2.

UPDATE 9:46 p.m. ET: Things are looking tough for Bill McCollum in the Republican gubernatorial primary where, with 65% of precincts reporting, he trails billionaire Rick Scott 47%-43% — a margin of 40,000 votes.

UPDATE 9:15 p.m. ET: Jim Geraghty notes the huge turnout advantage for Republicans in the Florida primaries. (Hat-tip: Allahpundit.) And speaking of Meek’s victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Geraghty says: “Jeff Greene spent $23 million of his own fortune to come in second.” Kinda sucks, eh?

UPDATE 8:33 p.m. ET: Kendrick Meek has been declared the winner of the Florida Democrat primary for Senate. With 43% of precincts reporting, Meek had 55% of the vote to 33% for billionaire gadfly Jeff Greene, with two minor candidates splitting the remainder of the votes. Meek will now face Republican Marco Rubio and backstabbing ex-RINO scumbag Charlie Crist in the Nov. 2 general election.

UPDATE 8:25 p.m. ET: Looks like a real barnburner in the key FL-24 Republican congressional primary where, with 32% of precincts reporting, Sandra Adams has 31%, Karen Diebel has 29% and Craig Miller has 27%. Meanwhile, in the Florida GOP gubernatorial primary, Rick Scott leads Bill McCollum 46%-44% with 37% of precincts reporting.


UPDATE 9:05 p.m. ET: There are GOP primary runoffs in two U.S. House districts in Oklahoma and, in early returns, Charles Thompson looks like a winnner over Daniel Edmonds in OK-2, while James Lankford leads Kevin Calvey in OK-5.

UPDATE 9:25 p.m. ET: It now looks like James Lankford has won the GOP nomination in OK-5.

UPDATE 40 p.m. ET: Background on these two contests from USA Today:

In his first run for political office, James Lankford beat Kevin Calvey, a former state lawmaker and Iraq War veteran, in the GOP nomination runoff for the 5th Congressional District, according to the Associated Press. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Mary Fallin, a Republican, who is running for governor.
GOP voters also chose Charles Thompson, a veterinarian, over 26-year-old rancher Daniel Edmonds, to represent eastern Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District. Thompson will face Democratic Rep. Dan Boren in the fall.

A Democrat incumbent like Boren in a state like Oklahoma ought to be vulnerable this year. Think about making a contribution to Charles Thompson.


UPDATE 8:46 p.m. ET: This isn’t really shocking news, but Sen. Patrick Leahy has defeated a token Democratic primary challenger in the People’s Republic of Vermont. Surprisingly, the PRV has not yet outlawed the Republican Party, and Leahy will face GOP opponent Len Britton on Nov. 2.

PREVIOUSLY: Yes, it’s another one of those Tuesday nights, and we’ll be updating the results from Florida, Vermont, Oklahoma, Arizona and Alaska until the wee hours of Wednesday morning. A little political news for warmup:

All right, Florida polls close at 8 p.m. ET, and I’ll be back to update, with links to other bloggers, more news, results, analysis, et cetera: The Mother Of All Election Night Roundups!

UPDATE: OK, as regular readers know, Vernon Parker had me at “hello.” I know that the national media are portraying the Arizona 3rd District GOP primary as the Ben Quayle coronation, while most of the blogosphere is all about Pamela Gorman, but Vernon’s my guy. Obviously, I’m supporting  J.D. Hayworth vs. the Old Bald Backstabbing RINO.

In Florida, my main concern tonight is the District 24 GOP primary, where “cronyism has consequences.” And, of course, we’re hoping that Palin-endorsed Republican challenger Joe Miller upsets Lisa Murkowski in Alaska.