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Murkowski: No decision has been made on write-in option

Sean CockerhamMcClatchy-Tribune News Service

The Lisa Murkowski campaign is disavowing rumors that the senator has decided to launch a write-in candidacy after losing the Republican primary, telling supporters that it's not a done deal.

Murkowski campaign manager John Bitney said Friday that the senator held a conference call with campaign backers from around the state on Thursday.

"It is rumor control, if you will ... (saying) that she hasn't made up her mind, that it's still up in the air," Bitney said.

Bitney said late Friday afternoon that the situation has not changed for days: Murkowski continues to consider it but no announcement is scheduled. Murkowski spokesman Steve Wackowski has said a decision could come next week.

"There's been just so many rumors going around about press conferences and, 'Oh it's tomorrow and oh it's this and oh it's that,' " Bitney said,.

Stories on Fox News and a Washington, D.C., insider publication earlier in the week quoted anonymous sources suggesting that Murkowski was expected to announce as soon as Thursday or Friday that she'd run as an independent write-in candidate.

The website Politico then quoted Andrew Halcro, a prominent Murkowski supporter, on Friday saying she would "make an announcement early next week, a Monday announcement." The Murkowski campaign said that was news to them.

Halcro then told the Daily News that "that was a misprint. I don't know of any press conference scheduled for Monday." He said he believes Murkowski is going to run as a write-in but doesn't have firsthand knowledge from her on a decision.

Halcro said he stopped answering his telephone after that Politico story came out.

"I'm getting inundated with calls from people, all these people who want the inside scoop," he said.

Murkowski technically doesn't have to get in the race until five days before the election if she wants to run as a write-in. She has about $1 million in campaign funds remaining, according to the campaign, but to launch the kind of massive effort that would be necessary she needs to act quickly. Murkowski was in Kenai on Friday and expected back in Anchorage today, her campaign manager said.

In the meantime, Republican U.S. Senate primary winner Joe Miller is campaigning for the November general election. He's aiming to assure Alaska voters who are uneasy about his anti-federal-spending candidacy in a state where federal dollars play a huge role in driving the economy. Miller's been talking of a transition period during which the federal appropriations for Alaska keep coming while he makes the attempt to get federal lands in state hands in order to develop them.

He reiterated that in a statement sent out Friday, accusing his critics of caricaturing his position.

"Given our current deficits, we, as a nation, will clearly have to curb overall federal spending over the course of the next several years," Miller said. "But concurrently, the federal government needs to honor the promises made at statehood, and transfer control of our land and resources to the people of Alaska. Until that process is complete, I will fight for Alaska to get necessary federal dollars. ..."

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