Unexpected results in the Last Frontier

UNEXPECTED RESULTS IN THE LAST FRONTIER…. Very few political observers expected a credible contest in Alaska’s GOP Senate primary. Incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski had all the advantages, and her opponent was an obscure lawyer, Joe Miller, with Tea Party backing.

As of right now, with 97.9% of the precincts reporting, Miller leads Murkowski by 1,960 votes. We may not get a final resolution for a couple of weeks — and with recounts, maybe longer — but it appears that Alaska may be home to one of the year’s biggest upsets.

We have some sense as to how Miller managed to do so well, but if reader emails this morning are any indication, there are two larger questions on the minds of many: Who’s Joe Miller? And if Murkowski ends up losing, is this Senate seat in play in November?

On the former, Miller, if he is the nominee, would quickly join the ranks of Angle, Paul, Buck, Toomey, and Johnson as the Republicans’ “Bizarre Brigade” of 2010. Amanda Terkel had this report a couple of days ago.

In a June 24 interview with local KTVA-Channel 11, Miller avoided answering questions about President Obama’s religion and citizenship, simply saying that he isn’t running on a “birther platform”:

Q: President Obama: Is he an American citizen? And is he a Christian?

MILLER: (Laughter) No comm- Look, President Obama’s been elected. I’m not running on any type of birther platform. I will tell you that I am an Alaskan by choice though, and I’m going to put my documents up on the website.

Miller wants to ban all abortion rights, repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, including measures protecting consumers with pre-existing conditions.

And what about the Democrat? Some higher-profile candidates likely skipped the race, assuming Murkowski would run and win, but Scott McAdams, mayor of the town of Sitka (population: 9,000), easily won the Democratic nomination yesterday, and is likely about to receive considerably more attention than he’s used to. Christina Bellantoni had this report:

National Democrats tell us privately the Alaska Senate race wasn’t even on their radar, until today when Miller’s showing stunned Washington. […]

Democrats tell me that at this point they don’t expect to spend money or devote resources to Alaska given they are on the defense in states that are likely to be far more competitive this fall. But don’t forget, Mark Begich winning statewide in Alaska in 2008 at one point seemed like a pipe dream. Anything’s possible.

Something to keep an eye on.