As the news was breaking last night that Lisa Murkowski was conceding to Joe Miller in their fight over the GOP's Senate slot in Alaska, Greta Van Susteren asked Karl Rove what he thought. Rove, to no one's great surprise, basically said nothing beyond vague generalities: "End of an era" was the best he could come up with.
Because beyond demonstrating the attraction of the Tea Party movement in places like Alaska, the race also demonstrated clearly the rift between traditional Republicans and their nutty populist counterparts -- a rift that may ruin all their hopes for November. As the ADN story notes:
Murkowski did not endorse Miller in her concession speech. She took no questions.
Miller said Murkowski called him early this evening to say she was conceding.
"I thanked her for the hard-fought contest and wished her the best and asked for unity," Miller said in a telephone interview from his hometown of Fairbanks.
Miller said he thinks Murkowski will end up supporting him in the general election. "I'm going to give her some time and we're going to talk more about it later," he said.
Yeah, no doubt she's eager to do that after you called her a hooker, Joe.
But this has Erick Erickson all upset:
Murkowski did not endorse Joe Miller. This is getting to be a trend among beaten Republicans that they don’t endorse their more conservative challengers. See e.g. Bill McCollum.
Actually, it works the other way, too: Here in Washington state, where establishment Republican Dino Rossi easily knocked off his Tea Party challenger, Clint Didier, it's been the "more conservative challenger" who has refused to endorse his fellow Republican, after Rossi politely declined to adopt Didier's positions after he won. Which resulted in an eruption of nastiness all around, as Josh Feit reported:
After Dino Rossi refused to “submit to a list of demands” from Tea Party candidate Clint Didier today to win Didier’s endorsement in the general election race against U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Didier told PubliCola:
“It’s not a list of demands. It’s what the people want to hear from Dino. They want to hear some specifics instead of generalities.”
Didier’s spokeswoman, Kathryn Serkes was more candid with us:
“So is Dino saying, ‘Fuck you’ to those people [who supported Didier]? ‘Fuck you, I don’t need your votes? I can win with 33 percent.’”
The question now is: Will Democrats get smart and get behind Scott McAdams, the lonely progressive who up till now has been pretty much ignored by the Democratic establishment? Chris Cilizza had this:
Democrats nationally will use Murkowski's defeat as yet more evidence of the tea party movement's growing power within the GOP. (Miller ran with the backing of national tea party groups.)
It remains to be seen, however, whether the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will spend anything more than rhetorical fire on the Alaska race this fall.
Little known Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams won the Democratic nod and was immediately engulfed in speculation that he could drop out of the race and be replaced by a more highly regarded candidate. (He is staying in the contest.)
And, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a poll Monday showing Miller with a 16 point edge over McAdams -- a warning shot meant to make clear to Democrats (and the national media) that this race isn't a toss up.
What Cilizza doesn't bother to mention is that the NRSC's polling is not what you'd call independent or particularly credible. Another independent poll found Miller with only an eight-point lead -- which means that, effectively, this race is a toss-up within striking distance for McAdams.
Meanwhile, Miller's mentor, Sarah Palin, seems not to be wearing so well with Alaskans these days herself:
If Sarah Palin runs for President in 2012 she can't count on a whole lot of support back home. 62% of Alaska Republicans are opposed to her making a White House bid and she gets only 17% in a hypothetical 2012 primary in the state tying for her second with Mike Huckabee behind Mitt Romney.
Seems like that Vanity Fair piece is on the money -- and the people close to her know it all too well.