- The Washington Times - Monday, August 30, 2010

In Alaska, it’s not over even when it’s over.

With Sen. Lisa Murkowski trailing little-known challenger Joe Miller by 1,668 votes in the GOP primary and about 14,000 absentee and early votes still to be counted this week, the candidate for the state’s Libertarian Party told The Washington Times that he would consider stepping aside in her favor - for a price.

Although Libertarian Party officials were dismissing the idea, Senate nominee David Haase said Monday that he would give Mrs. Murkowski his line on the ballot if the Republican senator would hoist his banner on behalf of nationalizing the Federal Reserve System, paying off the entire national debt with non-interest-bearing notes and abolishing the individual income tax.

“Would I step down for her? The right question is, first, will she take up my ‘People’s Bailout’?” Mr. Haase said, referring to a policy paper he has been circulating on how “to return to the banking system our Founders gave us.”

“If she came out for my ‘Peoples Bailout’ plan, it would influence me a lot because the mission is more important than becoming a U.S. senator,” he added.

The situation is equally fluid on the Democratic side, as party leaders consider whether to stick with primary winner and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams or go with a better-known alternative - including former Gov. Tony Knowles - in the suddenly competitive race. The temptation would only grow if Mrs. Murkowski and Mr. Miller both ran and split the center-right vote.

Although he trails in the polls, Mr. McAdams has shown no signs of quitting the race, and other Democrats are dismissing the speculation.

“Scott is our candidate. Period,” Alaska Democratic Party Executive Director Deborah L. Williams said in an e-mail.

But the uncertainty and confusion on the Republican side have attracted the most attention in the race after the stunning Aug. 24 primary. Mr. Miller, a Fairbanks lawyer and former judge who was given little chance against the better-funded incumbent, rode endorsements from former Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and “tea party” activists in Alaska to seize a narrow lead when the first votes were tallied.

Mrs. Murkowski, whose family has long feuded with Mrs. Palin, angered conservatives by, among other things, voting for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout in 2008 known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Also, Alaska tea party activist David Eastman sent e-mail reminders that the American Family Association ranked Mrs. Murkowski “the third most anti-family Republican in the Senate.”

Despite Mr. Haase’s willingness to consider stepping aside, it is doubtful that other Libertarian Party members would accept Mrs. Murkowski as their standard-bearer.

The party’s executive committee said Monday on a 5-0 vote that it was strongly opposed to the idea.

“We have decided that we will not offer the nomination to Lisa Murkowski for the Senate seat, even if came to that, because of fundamental differences,” said Libertarian Party Chairman Scott Kohlhaas.

Others say there could be an upside for the small party down the road.

Ralph Seekins, a conservative and Republican National Committee member from Alaska, told The Washington Times on Monday that having a well-known politician such as Mrs. Murkowski with such a well-stocked campaign kitty - nearly $2 million in early August - would bring the resource-strapped party visibility, cash and more than enough votes to guarantee it a place on the ballot in the next election.

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