National Republicans appear to have successfully dodged another Tea Party insurgency for the U.S. Senate, this time in Alaska, with former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan holding off a late upswing by 2010 nominee Joe Miller — and now going on to face first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in this historically Republican state.
With 74 percent of precincts reporting, Sullivan has 40 percent, followed by Miller with 32 percent, and in third place is Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell with 25 percent. [UPDATE: The Associated Press has called the race for Sullivan.]
A recent poll showed Begich ahead of Sullivan, 43 percent to 37 percent. The same poll, however, also showed Begich would have been even further ahead of Miller, 45 percent to 32 percent.
Miller came out of nowhere back in 2010, with the help of former Gov. Sarah Palin, when he defeated incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary. However, Miller then turned out to be so unapologetically right wing that Murkowski came back and won reelection anyway as a write-in candidate. (And yes, her campaign successfully trained voters to write in the last name "Murkowski" on their ballots — significantly helped along by Miller's own gaffes.)
Sarah Palin endorsed Miller again this time — though oddly enough it came very late, only in the last several days of the primary campaign. Miller had in fact already been surging, as shown by a prominent Alaska-based pollster, after a nasty race between Sullivan and Treadwell. But it doesn't look like it was quite enough for Miller, and now Sullivan will very likely move on to face Begich in November.