With votes still being in tallied in Alaska, the Frontier State's GOP Senate primary looks all but ready to give birth to Sarah Palin-lite, Tea Party-backed Joe Miller as a Republican candidate for Senator. For incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the potential loss may be a particularly bitter pill to swallow.
When Sarah Palin catapulted Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller onto the national scene in a Facebook post back in June, the upstart conservative candidate appeared to have only an outside chance against the political legacy of the Murkowskis, a family that Sarah Palin knew quite well.
The Palin-Murkowski political rivalry was famously launched when Palin was denied the chance to inherit the Senate seat of Lisa Murkowski's father, Frank, when he was elected Governor in 2002. Then-Gov. Murkowski chose his own daughter to fill the spot, instead. In 2006, however, Palin exacted revenge when she toppled Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary and eventually went on to win the election. When she resigned that role as Governor a mere two years into her term last summer, Murkowski perhaps reignited the flames of enmity when she blasted Palin for having "decided to abandon the State."
And so, the undertones of the Palin-Murkowski rivalry had always existed in this close competition, though they lay mostly dormant until Sarah (and Todd) Palin took to Facebook again last Friday and heated up the rhetoric in an aggressive fundraising plea.
After repeatedly attacking Murkowski's "liberal" voting record and deeming her a "Senate RINO," Palin wrote: "Let's raise $1,000 for each of the 30 years this senate seat has been locked in by the Murkowski family. The only way for our state to reach its potential, and to save our country, is to elect reformers who will fight for Alaska and all America and will stand up against the liberal Washington agenda."
Murkowski couldn't help but take it personally.
"The tone was directed against me rather than reasons why you should support Joe," Murkowski told Shushannah Walshe of the Daily Beast in an interview. "But she did put a little dig in there about my family, and you can't help but notice when she says that she encouraged people to basically pony up 1,000 bucks to raise the 30,000 dollars, they want Miller to gain and that would be a 1,000 dollars for the 30 years the Murkowski family...locked up Alaska. All of a sudden, it was like, wait a minute, if you are taking me on because you don't think I'm conservative enough that's one thing, but are you now suggesting that Frank Murkowski was not conservative enough and why are you looping him on this? All of a sudden it became a little more personal."
Murkowski took further aim at Palin directly Tuesday night, telling the Anchorage Daily News: "I think she's out for her own self-interest. I don't think she's out for Alaska's interest."
Sen. Murkowski also lamented Palin's recent recording of an eleventh hour robocall for Miller, saying that "It doesn't feel like it was a campaign that was run by Alaskans," according to the Daily News.
Wherever the campaigns were run from, they have produced an elections that is, as of now, still too close to call.