ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Backed by the Tea Party Express and Sarah Palin, a little-known conservative lawyer from Alaska became the latest newcomer to the national political stage to take down an incumbent in 2010.
In arguably the biggest political upset of the year, Joe Miller claimed the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate when incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski conceded Tuesday evening.
Miller's win was a major victory for the tea party movement and marked the first time it had defeated a sitting senator in a primary.
Tea partiers had knocked off Utah Sen. Bob Bennett at a state convention in May, and emboldened organizers now have their sights set on Delaware, where they are backing Christine O'Donnell against the more moderate Rep. Mike Castle in the GOP Senate primary.
Miller, 43, told The Associated Press by phone late Tuesday that he'll campaign this fall on transferring power and control over resources from the federal government to Alaska and the other 49 states.
The state has long been heavily reliant on federal money to run — a legacy largely carved out by former Sen. Ted Stevens before his death in an August plane crash.
But the government's impending financial crisis will eventually force a reduction in funding to the state, Miller said by phone from Fairbanks.
"We have to be prepared for that, and the way to do it, of course, is to progressionally transfer holdings of the federal government to us," he said. "And of course, also by reducing federal regulatory burdens over the lands that we do control so that we can develop them more freely and more economically."
We need to stop here and thank Sen. Murkowski for having the grace and class to do the right thing. There were some early indications that she was going to pull a Gore/Frankin move and try to bring in lawyers to tie up the vote count and try to steal the election (as Gore failed to do and Frankin succeeded in doing).
That the GOP establishment in Washington would have most likely helped her is beyond doubt and another reason that this election is about defeating them as much as it is about defeating Democrats.