So where do candidates go from here?

November 8, 2010 

A flyer sent out by the Murkowski campaign.

Thousand of ballots remain to be examined in the 2010 Senate race, but it is almost certain incumbent Lisa Murkowski will prevail wearing the mantle of write-in. Some of her ballots will be thrown out because of voter error but not enough for Joe Miller to win.

As of Monday, Miller had captured 11 of the state's 40 election districts and one major city -- Fairbanks. He took but one district in Anchorage, the Elmendorf/Fort Richardson/Eagle River area, which had the lowest turnout in the state.

Lisa Murkowski routed him in Bush Alaska, especially Districts 37-40 in the western and northern part of the state. Joe Miller did not capture a single precinct along an arc extending from the Aleutian Islands to Barrow. Neither did Democrat Scott McAdams. The Alaska Federation of Natives saw to that through their get-out-the-vote campaign.

Yes, AFN played a big role in Murkowski's victory and has much to celebrate. The rural vote was critical, producing more than half of Murkowski's current lead. But Bush turnout was not unusually high. Only District 39 (around Nome) ranked among the top 10 districts in turnout, with 47.5 percent as of Monday.

Another group vital to Murkowski was urban college-educated Democratic and independent women. Murkowski targeted them with mailers and other advertising depicting Joe Miller as, not to put too fine a point on it, a male chauvinist pig.

I especially like the mailer showing a Miller-like man with a bullhorn bellowing into a young woman's ear. The text accompanying the visual explains that women, by voting for Lisa, are standing up for themselves, pushing back against men who have pushed them around all their lives. The text doesn't explain what the voter gets beyond the brief satisfaction of putting it to Joe Miller alias Dad, an older brother, the cloddish boyfriend of yesteryear or the ex-husband who ran up monster credit card debt before disappearing with the hat-check girl.

Democratic women, I think I know what you will receive for your Murkowski vote: nothing. Lisa Murkowski is a conservative Republican. Every analysis of her voting record proves that. If you expect her to support the next Democratic woman nominated to the Supreme Court, forget it. She voted against confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama's previous Supreme Court selections. Remember?

As for Joe Miller, he's the one-hit wonder of Alaska politics and is headed back to bush-league obscurity. He probably would have done better following the example of Warren Harding, who won the 1920 presidential election without campaigning after receiving the Republican nomination. Harding sat on his front porch, occasionally issuing statements proclaiming his faith in the American people. Dull, yes, but inoffensive.

Miller offended many Alaskans with his arrogance. Oh yes, he was the world's expert on virtually any subject you could name -- the national debt, foreign affairs, the constitutionality of the minimum wage and unemployment compensation. He was a man with all the answers, the tea party outsider as Yale egghead.

His arrogance -- and perhaps paranoia -- led to the most bizarre moment of the campaign: the handcuffing of journalist Tony Hopfinger after a Miller town hall meeting. There was no way Miller could satisfactorily explain why his paid security guards "arrested" Hopfinger. The Hopfinger cuffing may have been the pivotal moment in the campaign -- the blunder from which Miller could never recover.

Finally, a word about Scott McAdams, who put on an artful, highly organized general election campaign and finished with less than 25 percent of the vote. McAdams has a future in politics -- if he moves to Madison or Minneapolis, where a Democrat can run without facing charges he is an agent of a Kenyan Muslim attempting to destroy America, Barack Hussein Obama.

Having purged myself, let me say Scott McAdams is a remarkable man. His composure during the stressful campaign was Buddha-like and his self-discipline worthy of a great actor. He learns rapidly and can convey what he has learned succinctly. These are true gifts. What he will use them for, I don't know. Maybe neither does he.


Michael Carey is the former editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News. He can be reached at mcarey @adn.com.

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