Joe Miller, who ran a failed campaign in 2010 to unseat Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and has been hinting at a run against Democrat Mark Begich, appears to have taken another step toward a 2014 race. According to Politico, Miller filed a Statement of Candidacy form with the Federal Election Commission on May 2. That form is required by any potential candidate who has either received or spent more than $5,000 in pursuit of a federal office. In the eyes of the federal government, it makes Miller a candidate for the Senate in 2014.
The news comes less than a week after Miller was ordered by a Superior Court judge to pay Alaska Dispatch more than $85,000 in legal fees related to a lawsuit brought during Miller's 2010 campaign to make public his employment records during his tenure with the Fairbanks North-Star Borough as a part-time attorney. Miller has yet to appeal that decision.
Miller's campaign committee, Citizens for Joe Miller, was sitting on more than $425,000 as of March.
Miller announced in mid-April that he was considering a 2014 run in hopes of unseating Begich, who took office in 2008 after defeating long-time Republican Sen. Ted Stevens just weeks after Stevens was found guilty of making false statements. That conviction was later thrown out due to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
In a post titled "Why I Am Considering a 2014 US Senate Run" on his conservative news and commentary site last month, Miller said that he would launch an exploratory committee to investigate the possibility of a run. Less than three weeks later, he filed with the FEC.
Miller famously lost to Murkowski in the 2010 general election after winning the primary when Murkowski resorted to a bold write-in strategy that eventually paid off. Questions about Miller's conduct during his employment by the Fairbanks North-Star Borough -- the same questions that eventually led to the lawsuit -- and the handcuffing of Alaska Dispatch Editor Tony Hopfinger by a security team employed by Miller at a town hall event brought negative publicity to Miller's campaign. The man leading that security team, Bill Fulton, was later revealed to be working as an informant for the government in an investigation into an Alaska militia based in the Interior.
Despite the FEC filing, Miller isn't quite an official candidate in Alaska just yet. The Alaska Division of Elections is responsible for overseeing all elections in the Last Frontier, including Alaska candidates for federal offices. The Division of Elections office in Anchorage is where longtime Alaska Rep. Don Young goes to make a splash when he files for re-election. According to Lauri Wilson, election coordinator with the Division of Elections, Miller has yet to file paperwork with that agency, which would make his Alaska candidacy truly official.
"He can file with (the FEC) first for U.S. Senate," Wilson said. "He can file with them without filing with the Division of Elections. He does (have to file) eventually, but our office hasn't received any paperwork (from Miller) yet."
Miller appears to have made the leap into the 2014 race before the other high-profile Republican who has announced an exploratory campaign for Begich's seat, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who announced an interest in running late last year.
Wilson added that Miller has until June 2, 2014 to file the Division of Elections paperwork. Miller's not exactly behind the curve, though -- only one candidate so far has officially filed with the state, Republican John Jaramillo of Palmer.
Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com