Yay Lisa! Lisa Murkowski declaring victory in her write-in bid

On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes reported on Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski declaring victory in her write-in bid for reelection and portrayed her as a victim of the GOP: “[She’s] in a very unique position, not beholden to the Republican leaders who turned their backs on her when she decided to run and not beholden to the tea party, which did everything it could to defeat her.”

In reality, it was Murkowski who turned her back on the Republican Party after losing the primary and continuing to run against GOP nominee Joe Miller. Cordes sympathetically declared: “This was a huge uphill battle for Lisa Murkowski, who was urged by Republican leaders not to wage this campaign after she lost her primary bid….It was a risky bid and the risk paid off.”

In addition, Murkowski’s win was portrayed as a major defeat for Sarah Palin, as Cordes proclaimed: “It’s a big blow for Sarah Palin, who backed Miller from the start.” At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith touted how Murkowski “beats Palin’s tea party candidate” and later described how it “would be a significant loss for Sarah Palin, who tried to knock out her opponent and failed.”

Murkowski returned to Anchorage from Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. A throng of supporters ringed the concrete walls of the local laborers union hall for a 6 p.m. rally. Some stood on benches or chairs.

A spokesman for the campaign chanted as Murkowski took the stage. “We made history! We made history!”

“Yes, we can!” said a man in the crowd.

“We did, we did,” Murkowski said softly. “We made history, and doesn’t it just feel … wow. 

“Still a little bit, uh, a little bit mind-boggling.”

Murkowski’s lead stood at more than 10,000 votes as of Tuesday night. Even if every write-in ballot challenged by the Miller campaign was thrown out, she would still be 2,000 votes ahead.

Elections officials counted the last of the ballots on Wednesday — about 700 absentee votes, Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said in an e-mail.

The division had not released a final tally as of Wednesday night. The last of the write-in ballots will be reviewed for eligibility and challenges Friday, Fenumiai said.

Murkowski’s margin over Miller appears to make irrelevant his lawsuit asking the courts to toss out misspelled votes.

Miller said Wednesday he didn’t know if he’d call for a recount. A Miller spokesman said earlier in the week that the campaign wanted a hand count of all ballots, not just write-in, to avoid any errors in the machine counting process.

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