It's been more than a week since Alaska's write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) declared victory in the fiercely fought contest with Republican challenger and Tea Party-backed candidate Joe Miller and the Alaska Republican Party embraced her as the winner, but Miller has refused to concede -- a move that could damage the state's interests on Capitol Hill (see Daily GPI, Nov. 19).

The Alaska Division of Elections planned to certify the election results on Monday (Nov. 29), but the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska approved Miller's motion to enjoin certification of the election results until the legal claims filed in state Superior Court are resolved.

In state court, Miller is challenging those votes where Murkowski's name was misspelled, yet were still counted in her favor. Miller argues that if Murkowski's name was misspelled on a write-in ballot or deviated in any way from the name appearing on her declaration of candidacy, that ballot should not be counted.

Murkowski's request for expedited resolution of the proceeding has been granted. Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Douglas Blankenship was scheduled to hold a status hearing on motions Monday, the Associated Press reported.

"It is essential that this case be resolved as rapidly as possible to protect the state. Sen. Murkowski's current term in the U.S. Senate ends on Jan. 3, 2011...If she cannot be sworn in on this date, the state of Alaska will suffer serious and irreparable harm," said Scott M. Kendall, attorney for Murkowski.

Her seat would be vacant and Alaska would have only one senator, Mark Begich (D-AK). Murkowski could lose her seniority in the Senate, going from her current rank of 43rd to 100th. And she may lose her position as ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Kendall said.

Murkowski waged her write-in campaign after losing to Miller in the Republican primary election in August (see Daily GPI, Sept. 21). Murkowski declared victory last week with a 10,328-vote lead over Miller, of which 8,159 ballots were challenged by the Miller camp.

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