JUNEAU — Joe Miller said he is not seriously considering an election challenge to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski this year, but he has not completely dismissed the idea.
Miller was a tea party favorite in 2010 when he upset Murkowski during the Republican Senate primary. Murkowski mounted a write-in campaign to keep her job.
Miller ran again in 2014, but he finished behind Dan Sullivan in the GOP primary. Sullivan went on to defeat Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in the general election.
In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Miller, an attorney and radio show host, said he continues to hear from people who believe Murkowski should be challenged and that he should take her on. Miller believes there’s a lot of public support for a run and that’s why it remains a consideration.
He said Murkowski has little support among conservatives, which he said would make someone like him a formidable challenge for her.
But Miller said at this time, there has not been any serious contemplation of a run.
Murkowski campaign coordinator Scott Kendall said the campaign thinks Murkowski is in a strong position. “We think the more conservatives learn about her actual record, the more they like her,” Kendall said Wednesday.
In a statement, Kendall said Murkowski is working hard to earn the support of all Alaskans. He also said that she and fellow Republicans “agree much more than they disagree.” He noted among other things that she has supported the Second Amendment; pushed for development of oil and gas resources in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for development; and fought federal overreach.
So far, no high-profile challengers have filed to take on Murkowski; the filing deadline for the primary is June 1. She has been raising money — an updated fundraising figure is expected to be released soon — and the campaign has been preparing as though it’s in “for the fight of our lives,” Kendall has said.
Miller said that for all the people who have run for Congress claiming to be some form of constitutional conservative or tea party candidate, not much has changed since 2010. “That really is what, I think, most people have perceived over the last six years, is a disconnect between the people and what they expect and what those that they elect do once they get to Washington, D.C.,” he said.
He believes that’s what’s pushing Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination. “People are willing to take anything as long as it’s not connected to the establishment,” Miller said.