- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has conceded her Senate primary race to Joe Miller, who never has held elected office but enjoyed the backing of former Gov. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express.

Murkowski made the concession speech Tuesday night, a full week after the primary.

Murkowski trailed Miller, a Fairbanks attorney, by 1,668 votes after last week’s primary. Election officials began counting absentee and outstanding ballots Tuesday. Murkowski made slight gains but was never able to get Miller’s lead below 1,100 votes.

She said she informed Miller shortly before making the announcement on live television.

Miller did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press.

“We all know that this has been a long week, a terribly long week,” she said at campaign headquarters.

She said that while there were still outstanding votes, “I don’t see a scenario where the primary will turn out in my favor, and that is a reality that is before me at this point in time.”

Murkowski had hoped to avoid the fate that has befallen other incumbents nationwide as they were swept out of office in 2010 amid an anti-incumbent fervor.

She said she was proud of the campaign she ran, which she called “honest” and “upright.” She said it stayed focused on the issues and the “high road.”

Previously, she had criticized Miller for running an unfair fight.

“This was not a race about Lisa Murkowski,” she said. “This was a race about Alaska.”

During a speech in which her voice wavered at times, she said confidently voice that once she completes her term, “I’m coming back home.”

“I’m looking forward to coming back home with my family and looking forward to building this great future, a great future that will not only be with my family but helping to fulfill Alaska’s promise, because there’s still so much work that remains to be done.

“You are WHO I AM,” she told Alaskans.