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Palin Pick For Alaska Senate Could Oust Murkowski

Just when journalists were busy writing the obituaries for Sarah Palin’s ability to play kingmaker, an obscure Palin-backed GOP challenger named Joe Miller looks on track to usurp Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) in Alaska. Unofficial returns as of this morning showed Miller up by a little less than 3,000 votes, meaning that the still-uncounted rural areas and absentee ballots will likely prove decisive — but they might not all be counted until September 8.

Miller was happy to give credit where credit was due: “I’m absolutely certain that was pivotal,” he said of Palin’s endorsement to the Anchorage Daily News. Murkowski, for her part, took a jab at the former half-term Alaska governor, arguing, ”I think she’s out for her own self-interest. I don’t think she’s out for Alaska’s interest.”

If Miller holds on to win, it will be the third time an incumbent senator has been unseated in a primary contest this season — the first two being Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.). His victory will also represent a strong caveat to pollsters and pundits — low turnout primaries are notoriously difficult to predict, so perhaps a little more humility will be in order in the future.

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