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Despite Alaska Senate race results, Joe Miller presses on in principle

Election officials were set to begin poring over more than 92,500 write-in ballots in the Alaska Senate race on Wednesday. Republican nominee Joe Miller's vote total was trailing the total for write-in votes. Senate incumbent Lisa Murkowski's campaign believes most of those votes are for her.

A short time later, Miller, a former government attorney, acknowledged that in 2008 he had used work computers for campaigning purposes and lied about it. His image also took a hit when his personal security guards handcuffed a reporter who wanted to ask Miller about the controversy.

Miller's most ardent supporters say they are concerned by the allegations of fraud and negligence - and that more is at stake than the outcome of one race.

"I don't think it's a win or lose for him at this point," said Greg Pugh, a campaign volunteer from Wasilla. "What he's trying to say is, there were certain anomalies that have happened and the law has not been upheld. He wants to see that the election process has integrity for future elections."

Unanswered question

State officials have vigorously defended their process, which they say has been guided by a desire to allow the maximum number of votes to be counted. On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell (R) called Miller's allegations baseless and harmful to the public trust. Miller's campaign responded by calling Campbell biased and saying he took actions that favored Murkowski.

Last week, Murkowski's campaign jumped into the legal battle, asking to intervene in a dispute that has largely taken place between Miller and the state. Murkowski argues that if the race is not certified quickly, she could lose the seniority she was allowed to keep despite having run against the Republican nominee.

For some of Miller's backers, there is but one question left: Should misspellings of a candidate's name count? Regardless of the outcome of the race, leaving that question unanswered would be a disservice to the public, said Eddie Burke, a tea party activist and radio talk show host from Anchorage. But Burke acknowledges that Miller's political future could be at risk if he presses the case too long and fails.

"He has two things to worry about. He has his future political reputation, but he also has right and wrong on the line. If wrong was done, then it needs to be corrected," Burke said last week. "I think by next week, either Joe has to have some pretty compelling evidence to show the public, or he needs to just fold up his luggage and just call it a day."

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