Joe Miller Versus a Conspiracy So Immense

Buried at the end of a Molly Ball piece expressing her disdain for the obstinacy of “noisy, quixotic, delusional” Tea Party candidates was this brief reference to 2010 GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller of Alaska:

Joe Miller, the Sarah Palin-backed attorney who beat Senator Lisa Murkowski in a 2010 GOP primary—only to lose to her write-in bid in November—is back, having learned important lessons from last time around, according to the Alaska Dispatch News: “Asked what he’s learned from his last race, and what he’s doing differently today, Miller said he won’t let federal informants inside the campaign,” the newspaper reported. Though he is not expected to win the primary, some Republicans fear he might run as an independent in November and siphon votes from the GOP nominee. Miller has not ruled out the possibility.

Intrigued by the “federal informants” bit, I followed the link to the full Alaska Dispatch News story, and discovered Miller really thinks his 2010 general election campaign was sabotaged from every direction. First, there was the aforementioned informant:

Long gone is “Drop Zone” Bill Fulton, who in 2010 was secretly tracking militia ringleader Schaeffer Cox for the FBI when he agreed to provide security for Miller at a town hall meeting. When Fulton handcuffed a journalist for aggressively questioning Miller, Miller’s reputation took a beating.

But Fulton came clean last year in press interviews. No longer living in Alaska, and with Cox safely in prison after plotting to kill federal employees, the munitions supplier told reporters he made the call to handcuff Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger. He said he was socially liberal and supported Obama — anathema to Miller​ — and suggested that the episode boosted his credibility with the far right as he infiltrated their network.

“Not only did he not support me, he was there as a plant, whether by his own accord or others,” said Miller.

Ah yes, more Chicago/Alinsky tactics from Obama! But just as bad were the consultants sent to him by the national Republican Party, according to a book written by Miller’s current political consultant, Matt Johnston, who is presumably not a “plant:”

With Miller short on cash after the primary, he accepted an offer from the National Republican Senatorial Committee to run his campaign. But Johnson believes the group had ulterior motives. It produced belated, ineffectual ads for Miller, attacked the harmless Democrat Scott McAdams, and gave Murkowski a pass.

Miller today says his biggest mistake was letting Outside consultants take charge: “We allowed D.C. to come in and control us. They brought personnel in and other things to our campaign, provided advice and direction that was completely contrary to what we should have done.”

But the buck stops with him for that decision. “I’m the candidate, I’m in charge. It doesn’t matter internally that I might have had establishment guys and NRSC people working against me. I let them in,” he said.

“That’s a mistake that won’t be made again.”

On top of everything else, Miller had to battle a “multi-million dollar smear campaign” engineered by Murkowski.

No wonder the poor dude lost, and no wonder–now that he appears to be free of informants, “outside” consultants, and Murkowski–he figures he’ll pull at upset in the Senate primary on August 19.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.