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.