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.
Do Alaskans know something that all the Tea Party people don't know?
Palin's puppet lost oh my!!!!
Sweet. Glad she won, but I can't believe she got elected as a write-in with the strict spelling rules in place!
Wonder if the "contested" votes are due to spelling errors?
GOOD FOR HER!!! A woman with a fighting spirit and one who showed true grit!!! She did not just accept the primary knowing that she has done such a good job, regadless of what Palin or Miller has to say. She left it up to the voters (who did not turn out in record numbers for the primary) to say who they wanted. Obvkously a 10,000 vote difference speaks volumes. May her opponent accept the fact and Palin clean the egg off her face!!
Oh gee palins buddy miller didnt win how sad for her thank goodness the smart people of alaska saw thru him now if they would just shut that yappy mama grizzlie things would be alot better
I agree. CNN should be forced to put a disclaimer on their site stating that all of their reporting contains a severe liberal slant. It's embarrasing to even read some of their stuff.
Shame on you CNN
The tea party nut Miller should concede the race to the write-in candidate Lisa M. That is the right thing to do unless you are aPalin clone. Give it up Mr.Miller.
Oh, Joe Miller, with all that talk and bluster, still could not make the numbers.
glad she won we need more moderates in washington
Pathetic; another RINO takes the seat. Next thing you know she will switch parties. Oh come to think of it she already votes with the far left democrats so why change.
Thank you Alaska...I learned something VERY important, I will never blow off a primary again. We need you Lisa..please please get on this Pebble Mine issue. The coastal alliance needs your support before big business once again buries the small business owner.
Perhaps miller can claim unemployment now as his wife did awhile back?
CONGRATULATIONS to a politician who is willing to work with both sides for the good of our country! It takes courage to go against the odds!!!
Don't forget about the asteroid that is coming very close to Earth tonight.
Space dot com
They neglected to tell you the important news......again.
I wonder if Joe MIller can get the money back that he put down as his down payment for furniture and office space? And to think this guy was thinking he was going to start making enough money to be able to afford a full shave and now he is going to have to go back to his cave without a shave.
YES she will WIN and not just Miller High Life LOSE – the PA'IN also loses!!! It would be something if the state of AK goes BLUE in Two Thousand and TWO!!!!! LMAO
Let's continue to MOVE AMERICA FORWARD with our current leader, President Obama!!
Great! Tell the Tea Baggers – Money cannot buy an election!
I am no longer a republican,i changed to independent when Sarah started in with all the lies and hate coming out of her every day. Thank god the tea party racist guy did not get in there. We have enough racist in D. C. already. Hey Sarah where are your comments in this. I bet it will be nothing but nasty coming out of her. Sarah when you run for President you can have Joe campaign for you.
I am a DEMOCRAT, and I think it is great. Go Lisa and remain Independent.
Good for her!
Now, lets talk about the power of Palin, who cannot even win a Senatorship for her candidate in her own state and the power of the Pee-Wee Party!
I say good for Senator Lisa Murkowski. She didn't take the primary loss sitting down! She fought back and fought the good fight. That's what being an American is all about.
Where's Sarah Palin now! LOL
One worries. Murkowski is a far right candidate now seen as a moderate? This bodes ill for my children.
Woo Hoo long live the ruling class of Nobles. We must have the Nobles negotiate for the people.
Isn't this why we fought for our freedom in the first place so we didn't have to have Nobles anymore?