UPDATE 1-Miller sends mixed message on Alaska Senate race

* Republican nominee to press federal court challenge

* Incumbent Murkowski won general election by 10,000 votes
(Recasts, adds details, byline; previous WASHINGTON)

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Dec 27 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. Senate hopeful
Joe Miller says he has given up trying to block the state of
Alaska from certifying the re-election of Lisa Murkowski but
will press ahead with a federal court challenge.

Murkowski lost to Tea Party movement-backed candidate
Miller in the Republican primary last summer, then fought her
way back with an extraordinary write-in campaign, beating her
challenger in the Nov. 2 general election by 10,000 votes, or
4.5 percent of the total cast.

But a formal state declaration of Murkowski’s victory,
clearing the way for her to be sworn in to a second full term
as senator, was blocked by a federal judge while Miller
contested the outcome in state court.

He has claimed that some 8,000 votes counted for Murkowski
should be disqualified because of spelling errors, poor
penmanship, abbreviations, and other minor flaws. He also
called for a full recount by hand, saying closer scrutiny of
the ballots would reveal an unspecified number of fraudulent
votes.

However, Miller exhausted his state judicial appeals last
week when the Alaska Supreme Court tossed out his lawsuit,
setting the stage for Murkowski to be certified the winner.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline has said he would
remove his federal court injunction against certification once
Miller’s suit had run its course in state court.

Lifting of the injunction, seen as a virtual formality, is
expected by Wednesday, the state’s deadline for responding to
the revised complaint Miller filed with Beistline on Monday.

On Sunday night, Miller posted a statement on his website
saying he was dropping his opposition to certification of the
election but would instead continue to contest the results
after the fact in federal court.

“This decision will allow Alaskans to focus on bringing
fairness and transparency to our elections process without
distraction of the certification issue,” Miller said.

Murkowski’s presumed victory would mark the first
successful write-in campaign waged for a U.S. Senate seat since
1954 and the last race of the 2010 congressional midterm
elections to be formally decided.

The result does not alter the partisan makeup of the
Senate, as both Murkowski and Miller are Republicans. But
Murkowski proved a swing vote on some high-profile issues
during the recent “lame-duck” session of Congress, deserting
the Republican leadership to vote with the Democrats.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Eric Walsh)

UPDATE 1-Miller sends mixed message on Alaska Senate race