In a major upset, Sen. Lisa Murkowski has conceded her GOP Senate primary race to Tea Party Express favorite Joe Miller, who had the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
"I don't see a scenario in which the primary will turn out in my favor," Murkowski said in her concession speech.
Murkowski made the concession speech Tuesday night, a full week after the primary.
Miller has never held elected office but he is now the immediate front-runner in the heavily Republican state.
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 1,200 votes.
More at Anchorage Daily News, AP, and NYT.
"We know that we have outstanding votes to count in the primary, but based on where we are right now 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 time," Murkowski said in a news conference broadcast live over statewide television from her campaign headquarters in Anchorage.
Murkowski did not endorse Miller in her concession speech. She took no questions.
Miller said Murkowski called him early this evening to say she was conceding.
"I thanked her for the hard-fought contest and wished her the best and asked for unity," Miller said in a telephone interview from his hometown of Fairbanks.
Miller said he thinks Murkowski will end up supporting him in the general election. "I'm going to give her some time, and we're going to talk more about it later," he said.
Miller said he's going to meet with close friends and family tonight. "Then we'll probably head back to the office and do some more campaign work a little bit later tonight," said Miller.
Miller will now face Democrat Scott McAdams, the mayor of Sitka, in the November general election.
The people of Alaska GOP spoke and now Murkowski should not only get behind Miller but encourage all her supporters to do the same.