|Murkowski lost the Republican nomination at the party’s primary in August [EPA]|
A Republican politician whose name was not even on the ballot paper has won the last undecided race of the November 2 congressional elections in the United States.
Lisa Murkowski won the senate contest in the state of Alaska as a so-called write-in candidate, campaigning to have voters add her name to their ballots despite it not being among those printed there.
Results announced on Wednesday gave Murkowski a lead of about 10,000 votes over Joe Miller, a favourite of the conservative Tea Party wing of the Republican party. According to the figures from the state’s division of elections, Murkowski had 100,868 votes to Miller’s 90,468, with just 752 ballots left to count.
Election observers from Miller’s camp have objected to thousands of ballots, including ones with a cursive letter or two, some reading “Lisa Murkowski Republican” and others with “Murkowski, Lisa.”
However, even if those challenged votes are subtracted, Murkowski still has 92,715 votes, an unassailable lead over Miller.
Miller, who was backed by 2008 vice-presidential nominee and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, had secured the Republican party nomination after defeating inflicting a humiliating defeat for the incumbent in the party primary in August.
But the surprise loss appears to have reinvigorated Murkowski, a member of one of the state’s most powerful political families and a senator since 2002.
“She just had a fire in her belly to do this not for herself but for the large number of people, literally hundreds, who begged her to do this,” John Tracy, who worked on her advertising team, said.
The last senator to win a write-in campaign was then-Democrat Strom Thurmond in South Carolina in 1954.
The result of the Alaska seat does not alter the make-up of the senate, where Republicans picked up six seats in a broad triumph over the Democrats.