From Anchorage Daily News:
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is battling for her political life this morning against Republican primary challenger Joe Miller, the tea party-backed candidate who has a slim lead as ballots continue to be counted.
Miller, a Fairbanks attorney, led from when the first returns came in Tuesday night and was on the verge of pulling off one of the biggest election upsets ever in Alaska.
With 429 of 438 precincts counted this morning,, Miller had 45,909 votes (51 percent) to 43,949 (49 percent) for Murkowski.
Miller credited the support of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his lead.
"I'm absolutely certain that was pivotal," he said.
Murkowski on Tuesday night took a shot at Palin, saying that when Palin resigned as governor last summer she said she would use her new national role to help out Alaska.
"I think she's out for her own self-interest. I don't think she's out for Alaska's interest," Murkowski said as she waited at her campaign headquarters for results to come in.
Miller made a triumphant entrance to election central at the Egan Center in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday night, surrounded by loudly cheering supporters with red-white-and-blue balloons.
"We did it!" one shouted.
[. . .]Palin and the Tea Party Express made a big push to convince Alaskans to dump Murkowski for Miller. Polls had shown Murkowski with a big lead just three weeks ago. But Miller supporters had thought it was narrowing and were expressing confidence earlier in the day Tuesday that they would be pulling off an upset.
This was the first test of Palin's influence on Alaska politics since she resigned as governor last summer, and the first sign of how influential the Tea Party movement can be in shaping political races in this state. The race was being closely watched nationally as a sign of Palin and the Tea Party's strength, but also because Murkowski is one of the leading Republicans in the Senate.
This is good news indeed.
It is not enough to return control of the congress to the Republican party. They have shown that as presently constituted they are incapable of leadership. While the worst Republican remains better than the best Democrat that isn't nearly good enough.
The GOP must have new leadership in the House, the Senate and the RNC which will view the Republican party explicitly as a conservative party. The RNC and the state Republican parties must begin seeking the most conservative candidate who can win in any state or district and giving them all their backing - even if it means unseating a Republican incumbent.
There will be some states, Maine for example, where the most conservative Republican who can win will be a liberal like Olympia Snow or Susan Collins. Fine, but in much more conservative states like Arizona and South Carolina there is absolutely no excuse for the GOP to give any support to RINOs like John McCain and his wretched little butt-boy Lindsey Graham.
Republicans will not save this country from the pit that Obama and his congressional allies are flinging it into. They simply don't have it in them to do anything else but chase along behind Democrats and shout, "me too, me too - just not as fast".
It is Conservatives who know what must be done to halt the slide toward destruction and return this nation to its economic, moral and political foundations.
The sooner that the GOP realizes that it must be the Conservative Party the sooner we can begin the work.