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Joe Miller to run as Libertarian in hopes of unseating US Sen. Lisa Murkowski

U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller speaks with supporters after the polls closed on Aug. 19, 2014. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

Two-time U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller will make another run at the office this year, he said Tuesday, trying again to unseat U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, this time as a Libertarian.

Miller will take the place of Cean Stevens as the Libertarian candidate on the Nov. 8 general election ballot after Stevens withdrew.

The Alaska Libertarian Party appointed Miller to run on its ballot line after Stevens told its half-dozen executive board members last week she was withdrawing from the race, said Terrence Shanigan, the party's chair.

Stevens didn't respond to a request for comment Tuesday. But she "voiced her support for Joe," Shanigan said, and party leaders shared the Libertarian platform with him afterwards to see if it fit his outlook.

"It was just right up the alley," Shanigan said, pointing to shared philosophies between Miller and the party that include "strong individual rights, limited government and the rule of law."

"We don't believe in creating an environment where we race to the federal government always asking for help or an intervention," Shanigan said. "We just believe that creates a dependence over time."

Miller switched his party registration to Libertarian and the party's executive board voted unanimously last week to appoint him to take Stevens' place, Shanigan said.

Miller couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. But in a talk radio appearance, he told Anchorage Assembly member Amy Demboski, a conservative Republican and host on KVNT: "I felt that the voters of Alaska needed a choice."

"There can't be a greater contrast between Lisa Murkowski and myself on the issues," Miller said, describing himself as a "federal Libertarian." 

"I think states should be able to carve out their own path," he said.

According to federal election reports, Miller currently has about $100,000 in a campaign war chest. Murkowski has about $2.5 million.

In a Facebook post announcing her exit from the race, Stevens urged her backers to support Miller.

"After much deliberation and soul searching, I know that in order for Alaska to win we must make our best showing to put a Libertarian into the U.S. Senate," Stevens wrote. "I think this opportunity will have its greatest chance at success if someone with greater name recognition is the one on the ticket."

Miller joins a crowded race. In the Aug. 16 primary, Stevens pulled in about 16 percent of the vote on a ballot shared with two Democratic candidates, Edgar Blatchford and Ray Metcalfe, the eventual Democratic nominee. Independent Margaret Stock is also running for Murkowski's seat.

In 2010, Miller defeated Murkowski in the Republican primary but lost to Murkowski a few months later in a historic write-in campaign in the general election. In 2014, Miller came in second behind current U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan in the Republican primary, capturing about 32 percent of the vote.

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