ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller filed suit in Alaska state court on Monday challenging the election victory of incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski and effectively halting certification of results.
Miller’s 21-page lawsuit closely tracks an earlier complaint filed in federal court challenging write-in votes for Murkowski in the November 2 election.
A member of one of the state’s most powerful political families and a senator since 2002, Republican Murkowski had to campaign to get voters to write her name on the ballot after Miller, backed by the Tea Party movement and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, defeated her in Alaska’s Republican primary in August.
Miller, who stunned experts by beating Murkowski, claims that elections officials violated state law by interpreting write-in ballots as votes for Murkowski despite spelling and handwriting mistakes.
Murkowski’s camp swiftly issued a written statement saying she would file a challenge of her own.
“In order to ensure the intent of voters is fully honored and that every Alaskan’s vote is protected, the Murkowski campaign will be intervening in Mr. Miller’s baseless litigation,” Murkowski campaign manager Kevin Sweeney said in the statement.
With Murkowski having trumped Miller by more than 10,000 votes, or 4.5 percent of the total cast, state officials have said they hoped to certify the election by November 29.
Miller has contested 8,159 of those votes and claims that even some of the votes that were written in correctly for Murkowski may be fraudulent.
The result of the last undecided race of the November 2 congressional elections does not alter the makeup of the Senate, where Republicans picked up six seats but the Democrats retained their majority.
Miller is trying to raise money to continue his court battle to overturn the election results.
Senator Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican and Tea Party leader, is seeking donations through his Senate Conservatives Fund. DeMint’s website reported it has raised $152,200 to date for the “Joe Miller Recount Fund.”
Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune