Opinion Brief

Lisa Murkowski: Republican 'spoilsport'?

Alaska's GOP senator says she'll run as a write-in candidate against the Tea Partier (and Sarah Palin protege) who beat her in the primaries. Can she win?

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) threw the race for her seat up in the air Friday by announcing she is running as a write-in candidate, joining the fray with Tea Party insurgent Joe Miller — who beat her in the GOP primary — and Democrat Scott McAdams. Murkowski said her campaign would be "tough," but that Alaskans are tough. "You don't think we can fill in an oval and learn to spell Lisa Murkowski? We can figure this out." Does she have a shot, or is she making a career-ending move? (Watch Murkowski's announcement)

Murkowski's a "viable" contender: Murkowski has "more than a trivial chance" of pulling this off, says Nate Silver in The New York Times. She's got some work to do, but polls show that she'd be "competitive" if she were on the ballot, and she has advantages that past write-in candidates don't: Fame and money. Meanwhile, nobody knows McAdams, and Miller's disliked by a third of Republicans and more than half of Independents."More on Murkowski's math"

Murkowski's a sore loser: "Absolutely no, she can't win," said Karl Rove on "Fox New Sunday" (via The Hill). And the write-in campaign is a "sad and sorry" end to her career. I mean, quick, "everyone go to your pencil and paper and write the name 'Murkowski' and see if you got it right." No, the only question left is whether she can act as a "spoilsport" to keep Miller from winning."Rove: Murkowski's write-in campaign is 'sad and sorry'"

She's running against Palin, not Miller: Along with her name, and the other "inherent challenges of mounting a successful write-in campaign," says Scott Conroy in RealClearPolitics, Murkowski has to figure out how to match the enthusiasm of Miller's Tea Party base. Her solution: The "anti-Palin vote." Given the "thunderous response" to her dig at Palin — here's "one Republican woman who won't quit on Alaska" — her risky strategy might just pay off."Murkowski strategy includes active courtship of anti-Palin vote"

She may want to think outside the box: She still has to deal with her name, says Alexa Tsoulis-Reay in Slate. Alaska doesn't have any "hard-and-fast criteria" for how misspelled a name can be, but the state's elections director won't be too strict: "Lisa M." might work, but not Lisa. Still, Murkowski might want to take a page from past contenders, and pass out pencils, paste-on stickers, or even rubber stamps with her name on it."What happens if you misspell a write-in vote?"

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