ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:
Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller is mounting an aggressive legal challenge to halt the counting of ballots that misspell Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s name – and he suggested today that Murkowski is getting a boost from election officials in Alaska.
On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Miller told us that, while the total number of votes for write-in candidates far exceeded the vote total he received, there are “lots of ballots left to be counted.”
“Certainly the margins that are holding right now are favoring us,” Miller said. “This race is far from over.”
Miller said he’s gotten a $20,000 contribution for his legal fight from the National Republican Senatorial Committee – which endorsed Miller after he beat Murkowski in the GOP primary -- and also revealed that Sarah Palin’s PAC yesterday sent him a donation.
But Miller blasted state officials for ruling that misspellings of Murkowski’s name – if clearly intended as votes for her – would be counted in her column.
“When Murkowski announced [her write-in candidacy] two months ago, she knew that the statutory standard required a proper spelling. In fact, her advertisement was based on that,” Miller said.
“Now -- I shouldn't even say in the middle of the game -- in the end of the game, the Division of Elections decided to change the approach. And they decided that a different standard would be applied, one that's never been applied before to a write-in campaign. And that's exactly why we filed in the complaint in the federal court, trying to get this resolved so the rule of law can be upheld.”
Miller continued: “I think it's a rule of law issue. Are we going to change basically the law based upon a particular candidate that is running?”
Miller said the candidate named “Murkowski” – part of a longstanding political dynasty in Alaska – seems to be getting special treatment from state officials.
“That's exactly what's happening here. You've got a different standard that's never been applied before to a write-in campaign. And the state's statute is very clear. The same state statute says the provisions are mandatory. Mandatory is the word that's used, and there are quote ‘no exceptions.’ And yet, we have these exceptions. And yet again, this is a different approach than the candidate expected when she, herself, began this race.”
While Miller said he remains optimistic, he said he won’t press on if he has no shot at winner. He assured us that the drama won’t last “months.”
“Obviously, if the numbers of the challenged ballots don't add up, we aren’t going to sit back and continue to contest this,” Miller said. “But if the numbers are there, obviously we’re going to continue to protect the integrity of the votes that were cast in our election and that's exactly what we're doing now. I mean this not some sort of -- it's always been a David and Goliath battle, don't get me wrong -- but we aren't unrealistic, we aren't illogical.”
Also today, we checked in with Jeff Mason of Reuters about the initial recommendations from the co-chairmen of President Obama’s deficit commission – which have garnered only lukewarm support from the White House and other political players.