Alaska's Tea Party Senatorial Primary

John Hanlon

8/22/2010 10:02:00 PM - John Hanlon

It seems odd to question how much of an effect the tea party will have in this Tuesday's Alaskan Senatorial primary. Alaska’s own former Governor Sarah Palin is a well-known tea party supporter, and the former vice presidential candidate's endorsements have certainly helped many Republican candidates in primaries this year. However, in the Alaskan Senatorial primary, Palin’s endorsed candidate Joe Miller will be facing an extremely tough challenge in hoping to beat incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Senator Murkowski is well-known around the state and has been in office since 2002. She was originally appointed to the position by her father, former Governor Frank Murkowski. Later on, though, the senior Murkowski was replaced as Governor by a young former mayor named Sarah Palin. However, as a Washington Post article recently noted, Senator Murkowski is well-liked in the state and even noted that “the first name in Alaskan Republican politics is still Murkowski. Actually, it's Lisa.” 

However, that has not helped Murkowski in her bid for support from conservatives nationwide. Both Sarah and Todd Palin are actively supporting Murkowski’s opponent and many other conservatives are standing up for Miller as well. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has endorsed Miller. Radio show hosts Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin have also endorsed the conservative attorney.

In late June, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza analyzed the Murkowski-Miller race. He noted that “On the surface, Sen. Lisa Murkowski -- a pro-abortion rights, member of GOP leadership and supporter of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an obvious target” for the tea party but that “beating an incumbent -- even in a tumultuous election cycle like this one -- is never as easy proposition…”

This Tuesday, the Alaskan Senatorial primary race comes to a conclusion. I expect a lot of political commentators will focus on the results of this election, noting whether or not Palin’s endorsement of Miller was helpful to him in this tough primary race. Regardless of outcome, this will definitely be an interesting race to watch.