It’s Miller time

The emergence of Joe Miller as the Republican senatorial candidate in Alaska is one of the most surprising results so far in an already surprising year. Miller’s defeat of incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary must be attributable in substantial part to the support of Sarah Palin, and it replayed Palin’s own surprising defeat of former Governor Frank Murkowski in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary. Before Lisa Murkowski’s concession this week, the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack answered the question “Who is Joe Miller?” “Based on merit alone,” McCormack writes, “Miller was easily the superior candidate to Murkowski…” He should be a strong candidate in a must-win race.
PAUL adds: I don’t know enough about Miller, even after reading McCormack’s article, to say whether he was the superior candidate in his race with Lisa Murkowski. I can say that he was the more conservative candidate, which counts for a lot, and that he certainly deserves to be elected in November.
I want to add, however, that Murkowski is an underrated Senator, in my view. As ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee, she performed excellent service in opposing the Democrats’ agenda, including efforts effectively to restrict the ability to drill off-shore to foreign companies (this earned her Keith Olbermans’s “worst person” award). She has also led the charge to overturn EPA’s “endangerment” finding for greenhouse gases, a determination that paves the way for agency climate rules. In my view, Murkowski might well be the Republican party’s most valuable member on environmental issues recently.
As for the claim that Murkowski is a “Republican in name only,” this is baseless. Murkowski (whose lifetime ACU record is around 70 percent) voted with the Republicans on the big issues in this Congress, including the stimulus, Obamacare, and financial reform.
Moreover, Sarah Palin initially contributed money to Murkowski’s re-election campaign. Later, when Miller entered the race, she concluded that Miller is the better candidate, which is fine and possibly true. But if Murkowski were truly a Republican in name only, Palin would not have contributed to her campaign in the first place.
It is one thing (though not a good thing) to demonize political opponents through exaggerated statements during a campaign. Now that the campaign is over, a bit more perspective is in order.

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