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McAdams concedes Senate race: 'We left everything out on the field'

Scott McAdams calls Sen. Lisa Murkowski to concede
Joshua Saul photo
Scott McAdams makes a concession phone call to Sen. Lisa Murkowski outside his Anchorage campaign headquarters Wednesday.
On Wednesday afternoon Scott McAdams' spokeswoman handed him a piece of paper with a phone number for U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski written on it in thick black ink. Standing in the cold outside his campaign headquarters in Midtown Anchorage, McAdams called Murkowski to concede the race.

After the call, which McAdams ended by telling Murkowski "God bless" and "take care," McAdams walked back inside to give his final press conference to a small gathering of local reporters.

When McAdams first announced his Senate run in late May, back when the idea of Miller beating Murkowski in the GOP primary was laughable, his candidacy was seen by many as a stepping stone -- a way to increase his name recognition in a state starved for strong Democratic candidates. A state organizer at the Alaska Democratic Party said at the time: "I have a real good feeling that even if McAdams doesn't win this one, he'll win the next one."

McAdams said Wednesday he wouldn't rule out the possibility of a statewide run in his future and acknowledged the value of the name recognition this race brought him but added that right now all he's thinking about is going back to Sitka and building the best youth basketball team in the state.

While McAdams is shrugging off questions about his political future, his supporters are more vocal. At the Wednesday presser McAdams demurred when a reporter asked whether he would run against U.S. Rep. Don Young in 2012, but when the same question was posed to campaign staff standing behind him, spokeswoman Heather Handyside let out a loud "Hell yeah!" that was quickly seconded by the rest of the staff.

Deborah Williams, the executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party, echoed that enthusiasm.

"He could look at anything from state senator to governor to Congress," Williams said. "He's certainly got options."

Write-in votes are currently leading Republican Joe Miller by a count of 13,588. Most of those votes are presumed to belong to Murkowski, though an unknown number of those ballots will be for other candidates or will be thrown out. McAdams said he had not been able to get in touch with Miller since the election and added that he had no comment on who he is rooting for in the Murkowski v. Miller ballot count. Asked about the effect Sarah Palin had on Miller's campaign, McAdams said, "I think we all know the diminished role Sarah Palin plays in Alaska politics."

As of Wednesday afternoon, McAdams stood almost 21,000 votes behind Miller, a difference of more than 10 points.

"People had to be convinced (McAdams) could beat Joe Miller, and if he had two more weeks he could have done that," Williams said, adding, "Scott would have won if Lisa hadn't jumped in."

The disparity, both McAdams and Williams said, was caused by a lack of time.

"We left everything out on the field," McAdams said. "We ran out of time."

Contact Joshua Saul at jsaul(at)alaskadispatch.com.