As Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) makes her write-in bid for Senate official, filing paperwork with state elections officials Wednesday, she faces a new concern — some backers worry that opponents are searching for a way to torpedo her campaign by fielding another write-in candidate with a similar name.
Some independent observers, several state Democrats and at least one Alaska Republican have raised that possibility with The Hill.
The thought is that backers of Republican nominee Joe Miller, the Tea Party favorite who defeated Murkowski in the GOP primary, or even supporters of Democrat Scott McAdams will encourage another "Lisa M." to wage a write-in bid in an effort to confuse voters and throw into question ballots that aren't clearly marked with Murkowski's name.
"I've been waiting for them to do it for the past three weeks," Alaska's Democratic Party Chairwoman Patti Higgins said of the Miller campaign and the various Tea Party groups in the state. "They haven't yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's coming."
Murkowski's campaign declined to comment on the possibility, but a source close to the campaign admitted, "We're watching the names that get filed very closely."
The process for declaring as a write-in candidate is relatively simple in Alaska. A candidate can file a letter to the state division of elections declaring his or her intention to run up to five days before Election Day.
And a quick look at Alaska's public phone book reveals plenty of Lisa M's to choose from for anyone trying to convince someone with a similar name to jump into the Senate race.
Before Murkowski declared her write-in bid, the state division of elections indicated it would likely accept a write-in vote for "Lisa M." as intent to vote for Murkowski. But since then, the division has declined to offer any public comment on what it will or will not count as a vote for Murkowski.
It sets the stage for an all-out legal battle between the candidates if there are enough write-in votes to throw the outcome of the election into question.
Murkowski's campaign has engaged in a robust voter-education effort on the ins and outs of the state's write-in process. The campaign isn't taking any chances on the spelling of the senator's name, however, working under the assumption that her full name will have to be spelled properly for the write-in vote to count.
Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell told The Hill he has heard of no such efforts to run another “Lisa M.” as a write-in candidate and that his organization wouldn't support any attempt to confuse Alaska voters.
"It just shows how ridiculous [Murkowski's] write-in bid is to begin with that people are even talking about this," Russell said.
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