WASHINGTON -- Joe Miller, the surprise leader in Alaska's unresolved Republican Senate primary, said Sunday that the growing national debt requires "belt tightening" that should include cutting back on federal dollars that his state receives.
Miller holds that position, articulated throughout his campaign against incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, despite Alaska's historic reliance on federal resources, needed to develop the vast territory of the young state.
"The government is going bankrupt. I don't think anybody can deny it," he said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "I think the answer to this is to basically transfer the responsibilities and power of government back to the states and the people. That is really the only answer, I think, out of this crisis."
Miller leads Murkowski by 1,668 votes after last Tuesday's election, but tens of thousands of ballots have yet to be counted.
The Alaska Division of Elections reported Saturday that it had yet to tabulate 23,472 ballots, including nearly 14,000 absentee vote and more than 9,000 questioned and disputed ballots. Those are from the GOP primary, as well as other contests held last week in Alaska. No ballots will be opened and counted before Tuesday.
Miller continues to accuse Murkowski and the National Republican Senatorial Committee of "meddling" in the race, setting the stage for a potential legal dispute.
"Alaskans won't stand for any post-election foul play," Miller said in a statement this weekend.
An NRSC spokesman said the organization dispatched its general counsel, Sean Cairncross, to the state at Murkowski's request to advise her campaign about the coming vote count. Cairncross already has returned to Washington.
"We've made clear to both campaigns that whichever candidate is chosen as the nominee, they will have our full support," Brian Walsh, the NRSC spokesman, said.
Murkowski has called Miller's allegation of potential tampering "paranoid."
"We want to make sure that every Alaskan's vote counts in this election. Mr. Miller shouldn't be afraid of what the voters still have to say about this race," she said in a statement.
Miller says the NRSC should not be devoting any additional resources on Murkowski's behalf since she has refused to rule out staying in the race as a candidate on the Libertarian Party ticket.
A survey released Sunday by the Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling firm showed Miller leading Democratic nominee Scott McAdams, mayor of Sitka, 47-39. If Murkowski were the nominee, she would lead McAdams 60-28. In a potential three-way race, Miller leads with 38 percent to Miller's 34 percent, while McAdams would trail with 22 percent.More on the primary election
By MICHAEL A. MEMOLI
Tribune Washington Bureau