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Did the GOP sabotage Joe Miller?

Jill Burke

Joe Miller continues to believe dirty politics were behind Sen. Lisa Murkowski's successful re-election bid, and he's warning voters in Alaska and across the nation to be on the lookout for voter fraud in the upcoming presidential election cycle.

Miller, an emerging tea party leader who failed last year to win one of Alaska's seats in the U.S. Senate after beating incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary, made the remarks over the Labor Day weekend in an interview with radio host Aaron Klein.

During the interview, Miller made it clear he felt he'd been jilted -- not just in Alaska but by national Republican power clusters. He'd run up against this kind of interference battling a corrupt party establishment in the past, he said, and the 2010 election was like déjà vu -- evidence of the lengths "the establishment" will go to defeat "reform-minded candidates."

Miller was referring to Alaska's 2008 GOP convention, at which he and Sarah Palin unsuccessfully attempted to oust Randy Ruedrich, chairman of the state’s Republican Party. Miller did not mention that during this same coup attempt he snuck onto his coworkers' computers to pad a political poll. He wanted to keep hidden the incident, resulting internal investigation and a reprimand over it -- all of which was documented in Miller's personnel file. It became a thorny election issue, and members of the press, including Alaska Dispatch, eventually sued for and won access to the records.

At one point in the radio interview, Klein asked Miller if he thought the GOP had "deliberately sabotaged" his campaign.

"There’s no question about that," Miller firmly answered. "This is not sour grapes. This is a fact."

Miller offered Klein two events as proof of the plot to harm his candidacy: the Republican caucus decision to not strip Murkowski of her senatorial leadership roles after she lost to Miller in the primary, and the way the National Republican Senatorial Committee spent money raised in Miller's name.

Maintaining leadership, Miller told Klein, was the only way for Murkowski to have value as a candidate to the voters. "Effectively, the caucus kept her in that position to strengthen her hand in the election," he said.

Then, Miller basically blamed the NRSC for his election loss. When the group spent money against Scott McAdams, Alaska's Democratic nominee in the race, McAdams campaign quickly fizzled. That sent enough left-leaning voters to the Murkowski camp to tip the scales in her favor, according to Miller.

"Those were dollars raised under my signature designed to ensure her victory," he said.

Miller also accused "ill-colored" agents of NRSC and the Murkowski campaign of trying to manipulate the ballot counts after the August 2010 primary. In the Alaska Division of Elections office in Wasilla the day after the vote, Miller said someone had been caught during the ballot count with a backpack, using a smart phone and getting onto election computers. He cited the situation as evidence of a failed attempt by the GOP establishment to steal the election.

At the time, election officials quickly debunked the notion that anything odd was afoot. "There's no way the state ballot tabulation system was compromised," the division’s director told the Anchorage Daily News.

More of Miller's complaints about the way the election was handled can be heard here and here in a two-part interview.

Also in the Klein interview, Miller speculates that Palin appears to be preparing to jump into the race for the presidency. What might happen if she does is anybody's guess, and he expressed some concern that a split vote could push Mitt Romney to the forefront, a candidate Miller has vowed to do anything to stop.

Contact Jill Burke at jill(at)alaskadispatch.com