U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller draws large crowd for campaign kickoff

Redemption makes for a powerful story. So does being an underdog who claims to speak truth to power. Of the three candidates running to be the Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate race–Joe Miller, Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan–only Miller can claim both. Both Treadwell and Sullivan have much going for them, but they don’t have the power of those two stories.

This wasn’t lost on the fired up crowd of as many as 200 on Monday night at the Wasilla Lake Resort where they gathered for Miller’s official campaign kickoff. As most know, Miller ran in 2010, won the primary, and then suffered a devastating loss to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s write-in bid. It was a brutal campaign, and Miller’s reputation took a beating.

But some things are different this time. Miller’s official campaign kickoff in 2010 was in the town square in Anchorage. About 12 people showed, said Mark Fish, who has been one of Miller’s main volunteers from the beginning. “I think I begged six of my libertarian friends to come,” Fish said.

And Miller appears to be softer and more relaxed this time around. On the stage on Monday, he was even able to poke fun of the fact that in 2010, a member of his “security” detail handcuffed Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger at a campaign event. Referring to his young children who were sitting next to him who are taking martial arts, Miller said that this time “we decided to have in-house security.”

It was probably the loudest laugh line of the night from a crowd that wasn’t shy about laughing, as well as yelling out an occasional “Amen,” or “Say it like it is Joe.”

The event lasted more than 2 hours, and featured national radio talk show host Lars Larson. Tim Macy, vice chairman of the Gun Owners of America, flew up that morning from California for the event. Adele Morgan and Paul Wainamo sang songs about God and country. Speeches about liberty, guns and God were made. It was a classic Wasilla tea party, with some beer on tap.

Before Miller spoke, they showed the above three minute video about Miller and his life. It’s easy to forget that Miller actually has an impressive resume. He went to West Point and has a law degree from Yale. He was awarded the Bronze Star in Desert Storm. He has a masters in economics from UAF. And he was raised by poor parents in Kansas. He has eight kids, and is now a grandfather. And he now will have run twice for U.S. Senate and has developed a large following.

Another thing that’s changed since 2010: Miller has developed a stump speech that is actually digestible. He still talks with passion about repealing ObamaCare, abolishing the IRS, and federal overreach. But he doesn’t go on and on. And on Monday, he peppered his speech with the personal. He told a story about being a little boy with a disfigured lip from a fall. He alluded to being bullied because of it. He talked about working for his father’s bookstore and mowing lawns to get enough money to pay for an operation to fix it. He raised the money, took the bus to Wichita, and got his lip fixed.

He was only in 7th grade.

The money is going to be tight for Miller. Although all told he has about $300,000 cash on hand, he only raised $101,000 last quarter. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell has less cash on hand, but he has name recognition and long history in the state. The big money is on former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan, who raised $1.4 million last quarter alone and has about $2 million on hand.

But then again, Miller won the last primary with only $300,000 against Murkowski’s huge war chest.

Miller didn’t mention Sullivan in his speech, but it’s clear that he’s going to attack him as the establishment candidate who is supported by those partaking in “generational theft,” and by the “same forces” that fought him so hard in the last election.

I asked him what’s different since the last election and why he thinks he can win now when he didn’t then.

He pointed to the crowd. “Look at this,” he said. “This is different.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


8 thoughts on “U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller draws large crowd for campaign kickoff

  1. donald rickard

    it seems that nobody knows what an excellent school that West Point is, the leading military and engineering school in the world, and even the entrance requirements are almost insurmountable, and those rigid criteria are maintained within each student for the duration; sports athletics are also required for you to be on sports teams every year. No other AK candidate has done or can do any of that.

  2. Mae

    Now the circus is complete. Can’t wait for the acts to appear on stage at the Ak republican convention. Is Joe going to drive up in a hummer surrounded by whacks with semi automatics? Is the chick from Palmer going to have a booth displaying various forms of breast feeding? And last of all, will anyone be giving out clear plastic bowls, minus the little tests?
    I swear on the bible, this is going to be better than the show Westboro Baptist Church plans. And I’m thankful it is not during the height of fishing season.

  3. Reader

    Great article, Amanda. I appreciate the quality work that you continue to do, presenting just the facts. You are top tier.

  4. cindy koestler

    Who are you talking about Joann? Not Joe Miller. The big money boys always run smear campaigns. Not Joe. He will be the ONLY one who will stand for whats right.

  5. Fox420/47

    In many ways, Joe Miller may be the most genuine candidate in Alaska’s US Senate race. I hav real problems with Sullivan, Begich and Treadwell’s constant efforts to position themselves politiically depending on which special interest group they are in front of. Begich and Treadwell are the absolute worst. Still analyzing Sullivan but early indications are he leaves a lot to be desired. Where are the great cndidates? Why are we forced to pick the lesser of evils? Right now, I’m leaning Miller. That’s a sad commentary on the quality of candidates that have presented themselves.

  6. carol carman

    Sullivan has money behind him from very liberal sources. Of course he’ll return the favor and vote according to their wishes. He also plans to move back to DC, with his house close by in Maryland, and having maintained residency there. Do you really think he will represent Alaskan’s interests? Additionally, both Treadwell and Sullivan are globalists – they will sell us out to the Sea Treaty and UN control of our country that Obama has begun to do. Miller is our ONLY chance to a return to the constitution and state’s rights. http://video.foxnews.com/v/3493364651001

  7. Garand Fellow

    I’ll give this to Joe Miller. This ad is as good as any produced by Begich or any other candidate in this race but it may have cost as little as 10 percent of what some of the most expensive ads cost.

    No one should count Miller out. He may come away from the state Republican convention next month the winner in that event. If he puts people on the ground in every community he could surprise everyone in August. I still think Sullivan is our best chance however.

  8. Joanne

    Most of us haven’t forgotten what a whack job he is. Not to mention how he loves federal money for his own family. If he could truly be an own steer state candidate who respects womens rights he’d be on to something.

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