Alaska political themes on display as Murkowski declares victory

There were two Alaska political themes making a stark debut as Sen. Lisa Murkowski declared victory Wednesday for the historic write-in campaign she waged against Republican candidate Joe Miller and Democratic candidate Scott McAdams.

The last announcement from election officials put Murkowski ahead with a lead of about 10,000 votes while only 700 ballots remained uncounted.

That announcement was likely the fuel that led to Murkowski’s declaration of victory, which represents two reoccurring themes in Alaska politics.

The first, of course, is that Alaska women make history.  Gov. Sarah Palin made history in 2008 when she became the first Republican female Vice Presidential nominee.  Now, as Murkowski is poised to win this election to Senate, not only has she become the first write-in candidate to win a seat in the Senate in 56 years, she has also become the first woman ever to win a write-in campaign for Senate.

The Murkowski victory nicely bookends a political season known for another important theme: the underdog. Murkowski’s initial defeat in the primary was by all accounts unexpected.  Miller was down by double digits in polls just weeks before the primary but he upset the incumbent, Murkowski, with a victory of about 1,600 votes.

Murkowski turned that result on its head during her campaign.  Write-in candidates have typically been viewed as the underdog, especially considering their win-loss ratios.  Her campaign started with uneasiness and uncertainty as to her realistic chances of victory, as was expressed in her campaign slogan, “Let’s Make History.”  But Murkowski did that and came back, most likely, to win by an even larger margin than she initially lost by, as evidenced on her newest website message.

“They said you couldn’t do it, but you proved them wrong.  And you put it in writing!” declared a post on Murkowski’s candidate webpage.

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But there is one idea that is even more intriguing than those above.  Most people probably did not expect the Palin phenomena to be topped, yet this year’s election season certainly attempted to do just that.  So, what will 2012 bring?  We will wait to find out if the newest Alaskan political theme has become, “Betcha can’t top this!”