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Alaska Sen. Murkowski concedes primary

Updated at 10:20 p.m.

By Aaron Blake

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) conceded her primary race Tuesday night after she failed to close the gap on attorney Joe Miller in the ongoing vote-counting process.

Murkowski gained just 38 votes on Tuesday, coming up well shy of what she needed to win her party's nomination.

With new votes tallied across the state, Murkowski cut her deficit early on, but by the end of the day she still trailed Miller by 1,630 votes with approximately 15,000 more ballots counted. Another 10,000 or so are to be counted later.

By conceding, Murkowski becomes the third incumbent senator to lose re-nomination this year and the second to lose a primary. Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) lost a primary in April, while Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) fell at his party's May convention.

In addition, four House incumbents have lost their primaries.

After primary day last Tuesday, Miller led Murkowski by 1,668 votes, with about 25,000 uncounted ballots, including about 15,000 all-important absentee ballots. Alaska elections officials counted about 15,000 ballots Tuesday, including about 11,000 absentees.

They didn't do Murkowski much good.

The first batch of 2,400 GOP primary votes reported Tuesday came from relatively friendly Murkowski territory in Anchorage. She won about 57 percent of them and gained 343 votes.

The next batch of about 2,900 votes came from the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Valley, which went strongly for Miller on primary day and netted him 135 votes. The Mat-Su Valley is where Wasilla is located, and former Gov. Sarah Palin, who is also former mayor of Wasilla, backed Miller in the primary.

More totals from Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks and Southeastern Alaska gained Miller more votes and made Tuesday's vote-counting virtually insignificant to his margin.

Murkowski exceeded her primary day performance in many areas, taking higher percentages in Tuesday's vote-counting than she did last week. But she didn't run up the kind of margins she needed to on Tuesday.

Miller enters the general election as a strong favorite to succeed Murkowski. He faces underfunded Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D). A GOP poll this week showed Miller leading McAdams 52 percent to 36 percent.

By Aaron Blake  | August 31, 2010; 10:20 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Lisa Murkowski loses, do Democrats sense opportunity?

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