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.
Congratulations to Lisa. Not only did the Tea partiers challenged her bid, but even the GOP establishment did so and she stood up against all of them to win handsomely
At least some state can think for themselves. Alaskans dont need Palin to think for them unlike the rest of the country
I think this is a big victory for the republi C an party. There is N o questio N that Murkow S ki was victorio U s. the Repbli C an party has a a real leader in Mur K ow S ki. Her opponent has no one to B lame but himself for not g A ining the trust of the the a L askan peop L e. Congrat S Lisa.
well if this holds up or even ends this way, it would have to be the ULTIMATE INSULT not only to Joe Miller, but to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement as a whole. Your candidate was SO rejected that people spent time to WRITE in another candidate's name in order to defeat him?? LOL that is rich! Perhaps I can cross Alaska off my list of states I refuse to spend my money in such as Arizona and South Carolina. Murkowski unlike Palin FOUGHT to keep her job, while Sarah quit hers to go make dollars. Lisa is one of the few Republicans that have impressed me so far. I just wonder though if Miller, Palin and the Tea Party are smart enough to know that they have been insulted.
In your face Palin you losser/quitter
Yeah, another loss for Sarah and the Tea Party!!!!
Way to go Lisa Murkowski! With a write-in vote no less! Goodbye to fascist anti-woman Joe Miller, Joe, get some gloves for your Neanderthal knuckles LOL!
I am surprised 100,000 people figured out how to spell Murkowski.
Now Miller can take his creepy disco beard and go back to the slimy rock he crawled out from under.
Great!!! .... now we start old turkey neck palins fall from her high horse...LOVE IT!!!!!!
sorry Palin, you probably wouldn't carry Alaska in a 2012 election!
Even more important is that Alaska decided that they had enough of Sarah Palin's nonsense by rejecting her nutball candidate. Palin was willing to send this fruitcake Miller to the senate to represent Alaska because of a petty fued with the Murkowski family. This is an indication of what of politician she would be on the national level, a petty halfwit with limited brain capacity.
Too awful funny, Murkookski the nepotistic cash cow for Alaska back again for one more roll. Dennis – The price of goods is going up due to inflation, that would be resultant of Bernanke, Geithner and Obama's spending way more than they have or can expect to have coming in from taxing the crap out of everyone. So they turn on the magic money machine and print some more paper, cost of goods increase is not due to the corporations charging more fro their over payed CEO's....it is due to the devaluation of the dollar and inflation.
To "Sambo": I don't understand your comment. In this article, CNN reported only numbers. How in the world can plain numbers be liberal or conservative?
I actually saw a piece on TV the other day where Murkowski actually said that she's not one of 'those' whose main objective it is for President Obama to fail. She said, 'If he fails, the country fails.' And she (so she says) believes in working TOGETHER to get things done. What a novel idea! I've been thinking about how if I worked the way those in Washington work (i.e., refusing to compromise; digging in their heels and not collaborating) I would have been fired a long time ago.
"Lost in Texas FOREVER", you boycott states because of politics? You are a moron
The insane wing of the Tea Party lost: O´Donnell, Angle, Buck, Paladino... and Palin, i hope
The sane wing won: Paul, Toomey, Rubio...
Congratulations! The people of Alaska will continue to receive their just deserts in pork and welfare! Vote with your wallet, not your brains.
I guess 2012 is the end for Palin at least.
I'm not a Republican but I think she was the better candidate. Seems more stable.
Whether Republican or Democrat, this woman is intelligent, elegant, smart, and classy.
Brilliant...!! I seriously hope she caucuses with the democrats though.
ColoradoDem, I'll bet you are one of the idiots that voted for Hickenlooper and Bennet too.
Hey Palin...The people of Aaaallllllaaaassskkkkaaa spoke and you failed to deliver your own state. What does that say about you? Oh yeah, LOSER!!!!!