Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) Friday announced that she will be an independent write-in candidate in November for the Senate seat that she now holds.

“Today, my friends, my campaign for Alaska’s future begins,” she said in declaring her intention, after being defeated in the Aug. 24 primary election by Joe Miller, a Tea Party-backed candidate (see Daily GPI, Aug. 27).

“There was nobody that was more disappointed than I was” by the results of the primary, Murkowski said. But since then, she noted, she has received an “outpouring of support” from Alaskans of all political persuasions to run for reelection. Murkowski, who has not returned to Washington for the current Senate session, has been mulling the write-in option for weeks (see Daily GPI, Sept. 9).

Murkowski would go toe-to-toe with Miller, an attorney and former judge, who was endorsed by 2008 vice presidential contender, former Alaska governor and Tea Party star Sarah Palin, who has been in a bitter rivalry with the Murkowski family for years.

Republicans are supporting Miller. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has accepted Murkowski’s resignation from her post as vice chairman of the Republican Conference, the Washington Post reported. She remains the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

While write-in candidates normally don’t have much of a chance of winning, Murkowski may have better odds. The fact that she is the incumbent, has a large campaign war chest and name recognition should work in her favor. And it’s believed that more of her supporters — who didn’t show up on Aug. 24 because they felt she already had the election sewed up — will be there in November.

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