Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced her change of heart and mind about concession on Friday. With a cry of "Let's make history," and a Dena'ina center rally, she launched an independent, write-in campaign to keep her seat in the United States Senate. Reactions range from "sore loser" to "thank heaven," from the view that Murkowski is putting herself above the party process and breaking her word, to the view that she's defying the party process for the sake of Alaska.
What we know for sure is that Joe Miller was the legitimate winner of the Republican primary, the choice of registered Republicans and some independent voters who cast their ballots in August.
So what Sen. Murkowski is putting to the test is not the results of August but her belief that she will be the choice of a majority -- or at least a plurality -- of Alaska voters in a general election with Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams.
To the extent that politics is personal, Murkowski will need to convince Alaska voters that she truly is bucking her party and primary vote out of conviction that she's the best choice in the field for Alaska, not just for the sake of personal ambition or bitterness over her defeat.
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Alaskans like politicians who buck the party line for what they see as a good purpose -- witness Republicans Nancy Dahlstrom and Bob Lynn, who in recent years broke ranks with the majority caucus in the state House of Representatives over promises to their constituents. The caucus punished them, but voters rewarded them with decisive re-election victories.
And in 2006, Republican Sarah Palin ran against the Alaska party hierarchy and whipped everyone in sight.
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