Alaska certifies Murkowski's write-in Senate victory

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:42pm EST

1 of 4. The certificate of election declaring Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) the winner of the 2010 Senate race is seen in this handout photograph released by the Governor's office December 30, 2010, in Juneau, Alaska.

Credit: Reuters/Alaska Governor's Office/Handout

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - The state of Alaska certified Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski's victory over Tea Party favorite Joe Miller on Thursday, nearly three months after the incumbent won the race with an unconventional write-in campaign.

The certification document was signed in the state capitol in Juneau by Governor Sean Parnell and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, a spokeswoman for Parnell said.

"It's been certified. The governor signed the certificate and the lieutenant governor notarized it," Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said. "From there it gets on a plane tonight with Gail."

Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai will carry it personally to the Secretary of the Senate, who must receive it by noon Monday, Leighow said.

It will be hand-carried by a state employee to Washington, D.C. so that it can be delivered to the Secretary of the Senate by Monday, the deadline to ensure Murkowski is sworn in for the start of the new Congress.

Although Murkowski beat Miller by 10,252 votes, about 4.5 percent of the total cast, Miller filed lawsuits in state and federal court seeking to overturn the results by throwing out ballots with minor misspelling or handwriting flaws.

But an Alaska Superior Court judge, the Alaska Supreme Court and a U.S. District Court judge found the lawsuit was without merit and that the state counted ballots correctly.

A Murkowski spokesman said the long-delayed certification was welcomed.

"It feels great to have finality and for Senator Murkowski to officially be declared the winner of the election," campaign manager Kevin Sweeney said in the statement.

"We spent six weeks running a campaign, and it took eight weeks to get the final result. While the long wait may make it anticlimactic, it does not diminish the historic accomplishment of our campaign."

Murkowski lost to Miller in the state Republican primary.

Miller, a Fairbanks attorney who has never held elected office, criticized her as too liberal and prone to compromise with Democrats. Miller was endorsed and financially backed by the Tea Party Express and former Gov. Sarah Palin.

Murkowski's write-in campaign won overwhelming support from Alaska Natives, as well many unions, moderates and Democrats.

The Democrat in the Senate race, former Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, finished third.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)

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