In her still-undecided GOP primary, Sen. Lisa Murkowski trails Sarah Palin-endorsed lawyer Joe Miller by 1,668 votes, with about 25,000 ballots outstanding. If Miller holds onto his lead, establishment candidate Murkowski's best hope for re-election would be finding another slot on the ballot — but Alaska's Libertarian Party seemingly quashed that possibility on Monday when it announced she would not be allowed to run on its ticket. In deep-red Alaska, does the Libertarian decision mean that the Tea Party has effectively locked up a seat in the Senate?
If Miller can get past Murkowski, it's Tea Party time: Assuming he prevails, Miller would be the "heavy favorite" in November, says Rick Klein at ABC News. "A Senator Miller would join a growing cohort" of anti-establishment Republican senators — "tea partiers plus like-minded veterans led by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) — who owe little or nothing to GOP leadership and the party establishment."
"Tea Party's boil singeing Republicans"
No, a Miller win actually opens the door for Dems: Murkowski and Miller would have been neck-and-neck in a three-candidate race, says Allahpundit at Hot Air, with Democrat Scott McAdams trailing far behind. But if Murkowski's not on the ballot, Democrat McAdams suddenly has a real shot — many of Murkowski's supporters find Miller's Tea Party views "toxic," and would be likely to side with McAdams.
"Bombshell: Alaska Libertarian Party says no to nominating Murkowski"
And expect them to make the most of it: The balance of the Senate could hinge on this race, says Patti Epler in the Alaska Dispatch, so expect the Democrats to do more than just hope little-known McAdams can pull out a head-to-head contest with Miller. "The buzz on the Internet" suggests the the Democrats may pressure McAdams to relinquish the nomination so a higher-profile candidate — say, former Gov. Tony Knowles — can take on Miller.
"It's McAdams vs. Miller in Democrats' minds"
Don't count Murkowski out quite yet: "In Alaska, it's not over even when it's over," says Ralph Z. Hallow in the Washington Times. The current Libertarian candidate Scott Haase tells me that he would consider handing over his ballot slot to Murkowski, regardless of what his party bosses have decided, if she will agree to "hoist his banner on behalf of nationalizing the Federal Reserve System... and abolishing the individual income tax." Clearly, this remains a fluid situation.
"Libertarian makes offer to Murkowski"