Senator Lisa Murkowski conceded her bid for reelection to primary opponent Joe Miller early Tuesday evening saying it was for the “good of the state of Alaska.”
She said it had been a “terribly long week” and “difficult on all sides,” during a press conference in Anchorage.
Murkowski had watched Miller’s lead dip and climb back during the course of Tuesday’s counting of absentee and other ballots but she said did not see a path to winning.
“Based on where we are right now, I don’t see a scenario, where the primary will turn out in my favor,” she told reporters. “I’m now conceding the race for the Republican nomination.”
She told reporters and several sullen supporters standing at her side that she had called Miller just before the press conference to tell him of her decision.
Murkowski thanked her supporters and called them the “best of the best.”
Prior to the press conference, Miller told KTUU-TV in Anchorage he felt “pretty good” about how the count had gone. He was asked if Murkowski should drop out. “No, that’s her decision,” he said.
Tuesday’s count showed Miller with 52,988 votes or 50.78 pct of the vote. Murkowski had 51,358 votes or 49.22 pct. Some 1,630 votes separated the two candidates. That was a margin similar to the one Miller had started with on Tuesday morning.
The Republican senate primary captured national headlines this past week as both campaigns sought to cast the returns in the most favorable light.
Miller’s candidacy was boosted early when he won the endorsement of former Governor Sarah Palin.
“Do you believe in miracles?!” Palin said in a Twitter message shortly after Murkowski’s announcement. “Thank you for your service, Sen. Murkowski. On to November!”
Miller, a Tea Party favorite, also had won the endorsement of Fox TV host and former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Throughout the campaign, Miller had chided Murkowski for being too liberal.
Murkowski had run strong in Anchorage and various other parts of the state, but Miller led in Fairbanks and in much of the Mat-Su Valley.