Joe Miller’s stealth Senate campaign

19660467_mlThe fourth quarter officially ended on Dec. 31 and now, federal candidates  — Dem. U.S. Senate Mark Begich,former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan, and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell — are busy preparing their reports due to the FEC by Jan. 31. It’s hard work. Each receipt has to be accounted for, and politically suspect contributors need to be checked, and in some cases scrubbed and their checks sent back. Some, particularly the ones who have raised lots of money and have lots of checks they are accounting for, are spending more time than others.

Senate candidate Joe Miller, for one, likely isn’t spending tons of time with all of that. From looking at his past reports, he’s not putting much time and energy into fundraising, nor is he engaging in high-profile events that catch the eye of the media. What he appears to be doing instead is taking a page out of his own playbook: he’s slowly, but surely, building grassroots support, far from the eyes of the media. Just this past weekend, for instance, he met with living-room groups in Anchorage, Wasilla, and Sheep Mountain.

Mike Coons, who is the former head of the Conservative Patriot Group and writes for a blog The Alaska Conservative, attended one of those meetings. He said that the room was packed.

Coons supported Miller in 2010, the last time he ran. This time, he hasn’t yet decided who he will vote for in the Republican primary. Treadwell isn’t conservative enough for him, and hasn’t yet heard much from Sullivan. He’s leaning strongly towards Miller because of his conservative values and because he’s reaching out to people like him.

“Stealth mode has advantages,” Coons said, who saw how it worked for Miller in 2010, when seemingly out of nowhere, Miller beat Murkowski in the Republican primary.

Indeed, in 2010, Miller didn’t file for that race until April, and only a few months prior to that, Murkowski’s polls had her positives at more than 60 percent. Murkowski had a war chest. Miller was a pauper in comparison.

Yet he won the primary. As Miller’s spokesperson, Randy DeSoto put it then: “If your message is good and it resonates with people, the person with the biggest bank account doesn’t necessarily win.”

One Valley political activist noted that people are so committed to Miller’s message, that his gatherings are reminiscent of revivalists meetings. The other candidates may have a lot going for them, but none, as of yet, have that.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


9 thoughts on “Joe Miller’s stealth Senate campaign

  1. Mateo

    You’re simply wrong on the turnout. Look at the DOE numbers: in 2008 107,505 Republicans voted in the primary, comprising 22.6% of the electorate, 105,326 of those Republicans voted in the US Senate race; in 2010 110,688 Republicans voted in the primary, comprising 22.7% of the electorate, 109,750 of those Republicans voted in the US Senate race.

    Whether overall turnout was slightly higher in 2008 is irrelevant to the question of Republican turnout. It is a fact that 2010 was the record for turnout in a Republican primary in Alaska. Lisa Murkowski’s propaganda was just a lie. Period.

  2. Kathy

    Voter turnout in 2008 was larger than in 2010 (40.62% versus 33.6%). But your observation about Miller’s total vote get in 2010 versus how things played in 2004 is very interesting.

  3. Mateo

    Kathy, if voter apathy and low turnout are reasons for Joe Miller’s 2010 primary victory, how do you explain the fact that the 2010 Republican primary had the largest turnout on Record in Alaska? Joe Miller received more than 10,000 more votes in the 2010 primary than Lisa did in her 2004 primary landslide over Mike Miller. Facts are inconvenient things, especially for Establishment Republicans and conventional pundits . . .

    In case some haven’t gotten the memo . . . we’re not living in conventional times.

  4. Samuel Abney

    I’m inclined to agree with Kathy. Miller won because no one bothered to show up for Lisa. That was the conventional wisdom at the time. However, I can see how Miller’s stealth and grass-roots movement helped to get him as far as he got.

  5. W. Mills

    In response to Teabagger Proud’s comment : you are partially right and wrong in your commentary. We all want Begich gone. Regarding Mead Treadwell, I don’t think his campaign is getting any traction. He had to put his own money in his coffers because he had so little support he couldn’t raise enough to keep going. Treadwell lacks integrity and isn’t fooling anyone with his act of “look at me, I’m a conservative and not a liberal RINO this week”. Treadwell is a non-factor. Where I disagree with your statements is with Dan Sullivan. He was a good public servant. As AG, he sued the federal government to stop federal overreach and to try to stop the ACA. As DNR commissioner, he did more to improve government permitting than anyone has done in 20 years. He’s the newest candidate in the race and his history warrants our attention to see where he stands. I agree with you that Joe Miller has the courage of his convictions, however, I am concerned that his election in the primary gives Begich a cake walk. I’m keeping an open mind about Sullivan and hopes that he does something to show us we should vote for him.

  6. Kathy

    I think Miller’s win in the primary had more to do w/ apathy of the voters, who didn’t perceive him as a threat (or didn’t perceive of him at all) and neglected to vote.

  7. Teabagger Proud

    Alaska’s senatorial election is a choice of contrasting characters:
    1. Global boy Mead Treadwell – this candidate doesn’t know his left from the right. He pretends to be a right leaning Republican but the historic reality is that he has alwats been a liberal Republican. He thinks the most important issues facing Alaska are Arctic issues (I’d call that out of touch). He’s never heard of an international treaty he didn’t like.
    2. The Washington insiders Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan : Five years ago today, Mark Begich was sworn in as the senator from Alaska. Best I can tell, he’s been Harry Reid’ and Obama’s pet hamster ever since. He issues lots of press releases but gets nothing done for Alaska. Now, his press releases brag about how he’s working closely with Lisa Murkowski. Gag me twice. Dan Sullivan is a Bushie that worked for the RINO Secretary of State Rice which he is proud of. Enough said.
    3. Joe Miller : A man of the people. He’s real conservative with the courage to speak his mind. Simply put, he has the courage of his convictions. He’s the only senatorial candidate worth voting for.

  8. Susan E.

    Joe Miller, despite ehat some say, is the front runner of this race. He didn’t show up oin the polls challenging Murkowski but won the primary. It will be the same this time. Meas Treadwell is a phoney who is acting conservative to curry favor with the base of the Republican party. His charade is laughable. Former commissioner Dan Sullivan is an interesting candidate on paper that quickly loses appeal when you look at him as a candidate and his campaign. So far, his campaign is non-existent and his website is a joke. Sullivan is afraid to take a position, at least that’s the way he sounds on the radio, and he has the personality of say a rich-kid Ivy school graduate, say like Mean Treadwell. What’s the gig with Ivy league schools ? Do they take your personality away ?
    Mead and Dan are the $$ guys and are RINOs just like Murkowski. Alaska needs Joe Miller. I’d rather have Miller but would take Begich over the other two RINOs.

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