Palin's man in Alaska secures surprise victory for Tea Party

Chalk it up as a home win for Sarah Palin. In one of the biggest upsets of what has already been a hugely successful summer for political underdogs, a virtually-unknown lawyer from Alaska has won a surprise victory in the State's Republican primary, unseating a well-established but far less conservative incumbent in the process.

Joe Miller, who enjoyed vociferous support from Ms Palin, together with funding from the Tea Party movement, becomes the firm favourite to win November's election to the US Senate after narrowly beating Lisa Murkowski, a career politician who holds centre-right views and has held office for the Republicans for eight years.

He was leading by roughly 1,600 votes out of just over 100,000 when Murkowski announced her resignation on Tuesday afternoon. The victory makes Miller the seventh outsider to defeat a sitting politician so far this election season, following the defeat of big-name incumbents like Robert Bennett of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

It also provides further evidence of voter frustration with the Washington establishment which could result in huge losses for Barack Obama's Democrats in the coming mid-term elections. Yesterday saw the University of Virginia's influential Crystal Ball polling service predicted dramatic defeats for the Democrats, who could lose control of several governorships, together with both the US Senate and House of Representatives.

It comes hot on the heels of a Gallup poll that shows them 10 points behind the Republicans, the widest gap for almost seven decades. If that were replicated in November, it would turn Obama into a "lame-duck" President who for the final two years of his term in office would hold little sway over anything except US foreign policy.

Mr Miller's rise provides a pertinent insight into the state of mind of Republican supporters, who have shifted firmly to the right since the last presidential election. A decorated Gulf War veteran with no political experience to speak of, his freewheeling campaign focused on two major issues: abortion (he is vehemently opposed) and public spending (he'd like it slashed).

Though Alaska's economy traditionally relies on huge financial support from the rest of America, Miller believes that the US faces an imminent "sovereign debt crisis" and should therefore abolish Social Security and cut spending on almost everything except its military.

On the domestic front, he promised to review the public subsidies that Alaska has for years received from Washington. He also wants to transfer vast tracts of federally-held land into the ownership of locals, who can then develop it.

The platform was enough to win Miller an endorsement from Ms Palin, whose husband Todd is an old friend. She touted him as a "man of the people" on her Facebook page and greeted his victory with a congratulatory message on Twitter: "Do you believe in miracles?!" it read. "Thank you for your service, Sen Murkowski. On to November!"

The Tea Party Express, which donated $600,000 to Miller's campaign, described his victory as "the political shocker of the year". Its chair Amy Kramer said: "[his] campaign based on a constitutional conservative platform resonated with the state's Republican primary voters and should serve as a wake-up call to the political establishments of both parties".

The result was also celebrated by Alaska's Democratic candidate Scott McAdams, a former fisherman and mayor of the town of Sitka. Like many of his party's candidates across America, he hopes to woo swing voters over the coming months by portraying his Tea Party-endorsed opponent as an irrational extremist.

"Lawyer Joe Miller ran an unfair, nasty campaign that didn't extend to Lisa Murkowski the respect she deserves," he said yesterday.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
An Apple iPhone 6 stands on display at the Apple Store
businessRegulators give iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the green light
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pricing Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style