3 Senate candidates express confidence facing voters

Erika Bolstad

All three main candidates in a historic race for Alaska's U.S. Senate seat claimed the advantage of momentum Monday, as voters prepared to make a final decision today in a contest that's been such a toss-up no two polls have managed to agree.

The candidates rallied their most ardent supporters on the airwaves and at their campaign headquarters, staked out Anchorage's prime street corners for sign-waving rallies and urged volunteers to make one final round of phone calls.

The day before the election, each had a poll they could point to showing they were either in the lead or within striking distance of their opponent.

Republican Joe Miller's campaign touted an automated telephone poll by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling that painted him as a frontrunner -- albeit one with highly unfavorable ratings.

In response, Sen. Lisa Murkowski's campaign released its internal polling numbers from Metro Intergroup Communications of Washington, D.C., showing her write-in bid in the lead.

And Scott McAdams' campaign seized on the PPP poll, pointing to numbers showing the Democratic candidate was the best-liked of the three. The campaign also highlighted another poll released by Hays Research of Anchorage that showed the candidates in a dead heat but with nearly 22 percent of voters undecided.

"Everyone's claiming momentum," McAdams said at a press conference. "But I think our momentum actually can be substantiated by the data. There's a lot of different polls out there -- the one campaign you see growth in is our campaign."

McAdams said he knows Democrats will turn out in force and suspects Miller's core voters will too. But he questioned whether Murkowski has enough people willing to write in her name -- any one of the three candidates could win the race with as little as one-third of the vote.

McAdams also pointed to the backing he's received in recent days from national Democrats. He got the $42,000 maximum donation allowed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The committee also devoted $150,000 to buying ad time for a $13,550 commercial that attacks Murkowski in the final days of the campaign.

Plus, McAdams said, he received a $5,000 donation from the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, one of former Sen. Ted Stevens' closest friends in the Senate.

Murkowski, a Republican, battled away rumors that swirled on the social networking website Twitter that she would caucus with Democrats. Twice, her campaign took to Twitter to emphasize the point: "Once and for all; I will caucus with the Republicans," she wrote.

The incumbent senator began her day in Fairbanks and ended with a rally at her campaign headquarters in Anchorage. Murkowski made a special point of thanking early-rising supporters who waved signs Monday morning.

"Who was there at Lake Otis and Tudor at seven o'clock?" asked Murkowski, to whoops and hollers from her supporters.

She thanked volunteers for their effort and asked them to make one more round of phone calls to undecided voters Monday night, and then to follow up with them during the day on Tuesday to see whether they'd voted.

As the day closed, the candidates focused their last-minute scramble for votes in Anchorage. None of the three was able to reach all corners of Alaska -- only Miller made it to the fishing community of Dillingham, for example.

Miller wrapped up the day with a meet-and-greet at the Snow Goose restaurant, where he had as his guests the country music singers Andy Griggs and Bryan White.

He spent much of the afternoon on conservative talk radio, with four scheduled appearances on national and local shows that air on Alaska stations. He zeroed in on alleged media bias, telling Mark Levin on his show that "nobody with a straight face can say this has been anything but one-sided."

On the "Hugh Hewitt Show," he warned that the race would be close and called on his listeners and supporters in Alaska to persuade 10 reluctant voters to go to the polls. But he said the election was going "phenomenally well" and that he was confident the results would line up with the PPP poll that showed him firmly in the lead, and therefore not require a complicated hand count of written-in ballots.

"What we're seeing on the ground is we're not even going to have to worry about it," Miller told Hewitt.

Complete campaign coverage
By ERIKA BOLSTAD
ebolstad@adn.com