Miller pledges support to Republican U.S. Senate nominee, to relief of party leaders

Nathaniel Herz

Joe Miller, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Alaska, said in a debate televised Thursday night he would support the party’s nominee against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in this fall’s general election -- a shift that came as a relief to party leaders.

Miller had previously declined to pledge his support, causing speculation he could launch a third-party candidacy in the general election that could undermine the Republican nominee.

At a debate produced by television station KTUU, Miller told GOP opponents Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan: “I believe I’m going to be the primary winner, with the voters’ and God’s help.”

“But if one of you two guys (wins) -- I have never said this before -- I will support you guys. I will,” Miller said, according to a news release from his campaign. “We’ve got to get rid of Begich. There is no question about it.”

Reached by phone Friday morning, Alaska Republican Party Chairman Peter Goldberg said he hadn’t seen the debate, but responded with a sigh of relief.

“Ah, that's what I expected him to say at some point,” Goldberg said. “It's something that I believed all along that Joe would do, because Joe understands that is an imperative that we remove Mark Begich from office.”

A spokesman for Begich, Max Croes, responded in an emailed statement: “Joe Miller, Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell were already united by their dangerous agenda that hurts Alaska’s middle class families, women and Alaska Natives.”