Miller says he's ending legal fight, conceding

By Becky Bohrer

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Dec. 31 2010 4:59 p.m. MST

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2010 file photo, Republican Joe Miller speaks with reporters during a news conference in Juneau, Alaska. Miller is ending his fight over Alaska's U.S. Senate seat, conceding the race to his bitter rival, incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Miller's decision, announced Friday, Dec. 31, 2010 at a news conference in Anchorage, comes one day after the state certified Murkowski as the winner.

Rick Bowmer, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

JUNEAU, Alaska — Republican Joe Miller is ending his fight over Alaska's U.S. Senate seat, conceding the race to his bitter rival, incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Miller's decision, announced Friday at a news conference in Anchorage, comes one day after the state certified Murkowski as the winner.

He had the option of appealing a federal judge's ruling or lodging a formal contest to the election results. While he said he believes he is right about the law, he said it was "very unlikely" an appeals court would side with him and that he had to accept "practical realities."

Ultimately, Miller said, "the courts have spoken."

Three courts ruled against Miller, who argued the state's handling of the election and vote count for Murkowski was not in line with the law.

Miller has not called Murkowski to congratulate her on the win, said his spokesman, Randy DeSoto. To say that she'd won it fair and square, DeSoto said, "is not in his thinking."

Friday's announcement ends what started as a promising campaign for Miller, a tea party favorite who upset Murkowski in the GOP primary, in his first bid for statewide public office.

He was widely seen as the favorite for winning in the fall election. But then Murkowski re-emerged as a wild card, launching a longshot write-in campaign.

Miller's campaign began to unravel with revelations about his past and the handcuffing of a journalist by his security, which overshadowed his message of limited government and fiscal restraint. For example, there were disclosures that he and his family once received the types of government aid that he raised concerns about as a candidate. And personnel files from his time as an attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough showed that in 2008 he was disciplined after admitting to improperly using government computers for political purposes.

Miller insisted that none of these things had anything to do with the campaign and instead were being used by his opponents to distract attention from the issues of the race.

In spite of all that, Miller retained strong support from his conservative base and won more than 35 percent of the vote in the November election. Results made official by the state on Thursday showed Murkowski with a 10,252-vote lead over Miller, her closest opponent. Democrat Scott McAdams finished third.

Associated Press writer Mary Pemberton contributed to this report from Anchorage, Alaska.

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