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  • Writer's pictureMarc Johnson

Beyond the Grave

Can Stevens Ad Win it for Murkowski?

Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has the unwelcome distinction of having lost a U.S. Senate race to a dead man. It happened in 2000 when then-Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash just days before the election, but still bested Ashcroft when it came time for the voting. Now, in Alaska, incumbent Lisa Murkowski is attempting to find out whether an endorsement from a dead man can help carry her to re-election on November 2nd. Murkowski lost the Alaska GOP primary, but has mounted a write-in bid to try and hold the seat.

Murkowski rolled out over the weekend a skillful television spot featuring the late Sen. Ted Stevens’ daughter and Stevens’ endorsement of Murkowski filmed before the Alaska icon died in a plane crash earlier this year. See the spot here.

Murkowski is attempting the nearly unimaginable – a successful write-in. Such a thing hasn’t happened in a Senate race since South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond pulled it off in 1954.

The Alaska race has become as fascinating as any in the country. A Tea Party/Club for Growth backed Republican, Joe Miller, has been leading in the polls, but generated some unwelcome attention over the weekend when a security guard with his campaign handcuffed and detained an Alaska journalist. (That’s one way to keep the press in check.) Miller has declared his personal life off limits to prying reporters. Good luck with that strategy.

Meanwhile the Democrat in the race, Scott McAdams, has been a distant third in the polling, but like Murkowski he has rather skillfully attempted to link his fortunes to the lateTed Stevens in a clever ad that plays on memories of Stevens’ infamous “Incredible Hulk” necktie.

New polls show the race tightening and, as Nate Silver the polling analyst points out, with many Alaska polling places not closing until midnight Eastern Time this race could be hard to call for hours or even days.

We may look back in a few weeks and say the Stevens ad for Murkowski was the real turning point in what is shaping up to be a race for the history books in the Great North.

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