An Alaska Superior Court judge Friday dismissed Joe Miller's attempt to overturn the results of the November election from which incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) emerged as the apparent winner.

Judge William Carey granted the Alaska Division of Elections' request for dismissal of Miller's challenge of the criteria it used to count the write-in ballots for Murkowski. Miller, an attorney who was backed by former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, sought to have tossed out the votes where Murkowski's name was misspelled, yet still were counted in her favor.

Murkowski launched a write-in campaign after losing to Miller in the Republican primary election in August (see Daily GPI, Sept. 9). Murkowski declared victory in late November with a more than 10,000-vote lead over Miller, of which more than 8,000 ballots were challenged by the Miller camp (see Daily GPI, Nov. 19).

Carey ruled that the Division of Election's method for counting the write-in votes for Murkowski -- where the name was misspelled but the voter's intent was clear -- was valid, and rejected all of Miller's claims.

Miller has until Tuesday to appeal Carey's ruling to the Alaska Supreme Court. After Friday's ruling, Murkowski's attorneys immediately went to U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to lift the injunction barring the certification of the election results. The federal court enjoined certification of the election results until the legal claims filed in state Superior Court were resolved.

Failure to resolve the court proceedings and certify the election results within the next few weeks would prevent Murkowski from being sworn into office on Jan. 3 and could cause her to lose her seniority in the Senate.

Alaska would be left with only one senator -- Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK). A seniority loss could take Murkowski from her current rank of 43rd to 100th. And she could lose her position as ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

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