Washington (CNN) - Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska will declare victory later Wednesday in the nation's last Senate race, putting her one step closer to becoming the second person in history to win a write-in bid for the U.S. Senate.
Murkowski's 10 p.m. ET statement will be a dramatic climax in the state's bitter and prolonged Senate battle. It will also essentially be a triumphant declaration of beating back a three-pronged attack: from her opponent and fellow Republican Joe Miller, from the Tea Party Express, and from Sarah Palin.
"We've said all along, we'll wait for the votes to be counted," Murkowski Campaign Manager Kevin Sweeney told CNN.
"The votes will be counted this afternoon."
When asked if Murkowski will claim victory in her evening speech at an Anchorage Laborer's Hall, Sweeney said, "Yes."
"By any standard, this was a clear victory. This was a whuppin'," he added.
Currently, Alaska's Division of Elections is counting 100,868 votes for Murkowski versus 90,448 for Miller. By that count, Murkowski leads by 10,420.
However, 8,153 of Murkowski's votes have been contested by the Miller campaign. If, as Miller's side would like, all of those contested votes are thrown out – an almost impossible scenario to many election and legal observers – Murkowski would still win the race with the uncontested votes alone.
"You can see that the numbers just won't add up," Sweeney told CNN, referring to Miller's hopes of pulling out a win despite the rising tide against him.
The Associated Press has called the race for Murkowski. If that stands in the face of legal challenges, a count of any outstanding ballots or a potential recount from Miller, it would only be the second time since 1954 that a person won a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was the first.
At this point, Miller is conceding nothing.
In an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News, Miller said he is "less cautiously optimistic" given the vote tallies. But Miller was emphatic about ensuring the integrity of the vote counting process.
"I'd encourage people to understand less than one percent difference," Miller said. "I don't think there would be a call for concession to any other candidate that had a less than one percent difference."
He also said he may request a recount, he wants to ensure that some military ballots were mailed out, and that the difference between he and Murkowski may shift if a "consistent standard" for evaluating the write-in ballots is applied.
Evaluating the write-in ballots has been controversial. As Alaska's Division of Elections tallied them, some ballots that contained misspellings or variations of "Lisa Murkowski" were credited as votes for her.
The issue of evaluating a "voter's intent" has infuriated the Miller campaign, prompting it to launch a federal lawsuit in hopes of annulling the count of misspelled or incongruous ballots. Miller's campaign blasted the Division of Elections' standards as "extraordinarily ambiguous."
A Miller loss would be a slap in the face to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express. Palin endorsed Miller over Murkowski for the state's GOP Senate primary. The national Tea Party group, known for roving national bus caravans, followed suit.
Murkowski lost the primary in August – and conceded the race. Shortly after, Murkowski launched the write-in bid to retain her seat.
– CNN's Kristi Keck contributed to this report.
Is Lisa a sister to Peloser? Lisa makes me wish that I had never lived in tye fablous State of Alaska!
Alaska and Nevada was the best election to watch pundits were pounding Reid and Lisa political career is over 90% polls show they can’t win its over
Many good politicians run away from the election after hearing the pundit’s comments and their polls
Out voice is the finial voice
Many of Joe Millers stances arent much to be proud of. He might as well do something he can be, by conceding on time, and with honor. None of this "we still won" stuff, that Angle and Odonnell tried.
This woman is no quitter, she has "the intellectual curiosity" that Palin lacks and those are Murkowski's words, not mine.
miller is a bully. You lost moron. Get over it and go back to Kansas. From what I have read in AK newspapers they want you as part of their state as much as they want that other loser half term witch.
See how afraid of Palin Alaska is? Smarten up, continental Americans.
Who in the hell loses to a write in canidate, oh! tea bags.
She is very good at playing the system.
The people of Alaska realized that substance and character count more than slogans. Ms. Murkowski is not "liberal" by any stretch of the word, but she is rational enough to know what is good for Alaska and for the country. Congratulations to her on taking the high road while her opponent self-destructed with his dishonesty and poor behavior.
It is too bad Miller does not honor the voice of the people when it speaks out against him. If he blocks this election with lawsuits he will show his true colors.
Can we please dispel the myth that the Tea Party is relevant now? Republican candidates that are too extreme to win statewide office outside the south are neither new or newsworthy.
Where was she when the POTUS needed her vote on crutial legislation. She voted NO along with the other rethugs. They kicked her to the curb and now she's a senator (woman) scorned and has changed to an Independent. This means another vote for the Dems!!!! This was a major victory. Bye Bye Palin!
I am a life long card carrying Democrat and I am an Alaskan. For the first time in my life I crossed party lines and filled in that oval and printed LISA MURKOWSKI in big bold letters. I may not agree with all that she does, however I do agree with her in that Joe Miller is NOT the answer for Alaska or any state for that matter!