By BECKY BOHRER
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said knowing what she knows now about the character and positions of GOP rival Joe Miller, she doesn't know how she would have slept at night if she had decided against running as a write-in candidate.
Murkowski, who lost the Republican nomination to Miller in the August primary, told The Associated Press on Sunday that his election would be disastrous for the state. She is in a heated three-way race with Miller, a tea party favorite, and Democrat Scott McAdams.
Miller has had to acknowledge this election season that his family received the types of government benefits - Medicaid, unemployment and farm subsidies - he now rails against. He also has acknowledged violating ethics policy while working as a borough attorney.
"If I knew that I had left the choice for Alaskans to be just between Miller and McAdams, knowing what we know now about Miller, and the disaster of the future that he would provide for my kids, I just don't know, I don't know how I'd be able to go to sleep," she said. "It was a decision that was right at the time, and it's even more right now."
Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto said in a statement he wonders what Murkowski tells her kids about supporting "job-killing" cap and trade legislation, seeing the national debt soar during her eight years in office and getting outside support from Alaskans Standing Together, an independent group formed by Alaska Native corporations, that Miller's campaign calls a "PR front group" for Murkowski.
Murkowski deems McAdams, a former small town mayor and school board member, too inexperienced for the job, a characterization he disputes.
Miller supports limiting the powers of the federal government to those spelled out in the U.S. Constitution and giving states greater control of programs.
Earlier this month, he vowed to no longer answer questions about his past or background after claiming his personnel file from his time as an attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough had been illegally leaked. The borough attorney has said she has found no evidence of a leak.
After former borough Mayor Jim Whitaker said Miller was nearly fired for using government computers in a failed effort to oust the state GOP chairman in 2008, Miller acknowledged to CNN that he had violated ethics policy but said it was unrelated to his departure the following year or with the issues of the current race.
A judge on Saturday ordered the borough to release Miller's personnel records but allowed time for an appeal. Miller's attorney said Sunday afternoon that a decision on whether to appeal hadn't been made yet.
Polls have suggested a tight race, and Miller has accused his opponents - Murkowski, in particular - of focusing on petty issues from his past to try to distract voters' attention. He told the AP recently those efforts speak to her desperation.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which supported Murkowski in her 2004 race, has begun running ads supporting Miller. Murkowski said she hopes the group uses its money wisely and recognizes, as she believes, that the seat will end up in Republican hands.
"The real question is, is which Republican will it be? Will it be one that is time tested and has worked hard for her state and has the ability to get things done over these next six years or are they going to go with a Republican that has demonstrated that he has some real issues when it comes to character and some real questionable situations when it comes to saying one thing and living his life another way?" she said.
A committee spokesman didn't immediately return a message.
Murkowski expects the race's last days to be "very aggressive." She said that if it's anything like the primary, in which Tea Party Express bombarded the airwaves with ads supporting Miller, "it's bound to be ugly, and that's unfortunate."
Murkowski accused the group of lying about or distorting her record, particularly her position on the federal health care legislation. The California-based group has stood behind the campaign it ran.
Since the primary, the group's had a relatively low profile in Alaska. Its spending has topped $606,000 - most of that for the primary. Alaskans Standing Together, formed after the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing for unions and corporations to use their own money to support or oppose a candidate, has spent roughly twice that in the last month in seeking to help Murkowski win.
"I'm hopeful what we see thrown out at the end in desperation doesn't disillusion the voter out there. But we shall see what the next week holds," she said, vowing to finish the race herself with a "direct and very firm but absolutely honest" campaign.
Miller's campaign has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Alaskans Standing Together, alleging it's using money that the corporations obtained as federal contractors to try to influence the race for Murkowski.