Who Is Sarah Palin’s Pick for Alaska’s Contested Senate Seat?
Not sitting Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), as Palin made clear in a Facebook message to her supporters this morning that began: “Contested primaries are so good for America’s political process! Competition makes everyone work harder, be more efficient, debate clearer [sic], and produce more.”
Palin experienced the value of contested primaries firsthand, having toppled Lisa Murkowski’s father, Frank, in a hotly contested 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary that launched the future vice-presidential nominee onto the national stage. Palin couched her endorsement of challenger Joe Miller over Lisa Murkowski as a rejection of the Washington Republican establishment rather than a sign of any “feud or bad blood” between the two women — although media coverage of the move has focused on little else.
“Palin vs. Murkowski” aside, it’s worth asking: Who is Joe Miller?
Miller entered the race against Murkowski in April, with Todd Palin appearing at one of his early fundraisers. His official biography mentions decorated service in the 1990s Gulf War as well as a term as a magistrate judge in Fairbanks, adding that Miller was “the youngest then serving in that federal position, not only in the state, but also in the entire nation.”
Miller, his campaign just confirmed to me, is the same Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller who served as an interior regional chairman of the Alaska GOP during Palin’s time as the state governor. According to wire reports from mid-2008, he aided a failed attempt to remove Randy Ruedrich — a political foe of Palin’s — from command of the state party.
On the legislative front, Palin drew many of the same Miller-Murkowski comparisons that the challenger features on his campaign website. “Joe believes that we must repeal the new Obamacare health care mandate … Lisa opposes repealing the law,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page. (That might come as a surprise to Murkowski, who submitted an op-ed to Alaska local papers last month headlined, “Congress must repeal healthcare plan.”)
Palin also touted Miller’s opposition to cap-and-trade climate change legislation. In fact, Miller goes a bit further on his website by questioning the science behind global warming (“dubious … at best”). Murkowski does state that she thinks “climate change is a real threat that must be addressed,” though so far she has focused more on blocking Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate emissions than on striking a bipartisan deal to move forward on a climate bill.
The Republican primary for Alaska’s open Senate seat will take place in August.