And so concludes the most recent chapter in one of Alaska's most epic political rivalries - Palin vs. the Murkowskis. More importantly, Joe Miller is an anti-establishment candidate in every sense of the word. He poses a threat even to the GOP's congressional leadership, as Tim Carney noted:
The Alaska result is above all a blow to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. As with the primary defeat of Utah's Bob Bennett in the spring, challenger Joe Miller's likely win replaces a close McConnell confidant with an unaccommodating conservative...
Murkowski was one of McConnell's rising stars. He tapped her for his inner circle in her first term, and she also got a spot on the Appropriations Committee. The darling of Alaska's former senior senator, Ted Stevens, Murkowski rocketed through the ranks. This year, she was elected secretary of the Senate Republican Conference, one of the top six leadership roles. After Stevens lost re-election in 2008, McConnell took her under his wing. "Lisa is the new powerhouse in Alaska," he told Roll Call. "She will fill the vacuum left by Ted."
Is Miller's anti-establishment approach a boon for a GOP seeking to rebrand itself, or a dangerous means to divide the party?