On Thursday, conservative talk-radio host Mark Levin asked his listeners to call the office of Sen. John Cornyn (who leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee) and ask "why he is not sending money and lawyers to Alaska to help Joe Miller in the counting of write-in votes,” and insisted "The test for the NRSC is what it does for Joe Miller in Alaska — this is the key fight.”
In response to that "Levin surge" and other pressure, Alexander Bolton of The Hill newspaper reports Sen. Cornyn sent out a fundraising appeal Friday afternoon asking supporters to contribute to Miller’s campaign.
Joe Miller in Alaska is dedicated to the conservative principles we need in Washington, DC,” Cornyn wrote. “But he faces the potential of a lengthy recount.
“We need to get Joe the resources he needs to win the vote count,” Cornyn added.
Conservatives were critical of the NRSC for running an ad attacking Democrat Scott McAdams, but making no mention of Miller (obviously in deference to Republican primary loser/write-in spoiler Sen. Lisa Murkowski). In The Washington Post online on Wednesday (and on Thursday's editorial page), former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen wrote a blistering critique of the NRSC's preference in dropping last-minute cash on California nominee Carly Fiorina instead of much tighter Senate contests:
Turns out the public polls were right -- Fiorina got trounced by 9.8 percent. Meanwhile, Harry Reid pulled off a come-from-behind victory over Sharron Angle in Nevada, Ken Buck appears to be losing by the narrowest of margins in Colorado, and Washington State is still too close to call. In Alaska, the final results may not be known for some time, but the NRSC's final ads actually ended up helping Lisa Murkowski in her write-in campaign against GOP nominee Joe Miller. Instead of attacking Murkowski -- the candidate who most threatened the party's nominee -- the NRSC instead took aim at Democrat Scott McAdams, who had no chance of winning. Any support they drove from McAdams was far more likely to go to Murkowski than to Miller -- meaning the NRSC effort probably did more harm than good for Miller's campaign.
The NRSC's supporters respond that the committee spent plenty in those states, and it would not have had to do so had it not been saddled with so many Tea Party candidates. Put aside the fact that Tea Party-supported candidates such as Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee won last night despite the NRSC trying to defeat them in their primaries, the idea that the Tea Party was a dead weight the NRSC had to carry on election day is absurd. The fact is none of the GOP candidates who won last night -- whether establishment or insurgents -- could have made it across the finish line without the popular wave of enthusiasm created by the Tea Party.
Now the test for the NRSC is what it does for Joe Miller in Alaska. Like the hanging chad fights that followed the 2000 presidential election in Florida, there will now be a major battle over the validity and intent of every one of Alaska's write-in ballots. Is the NRSC sending teams of lawyers to Alaska to challenge these write-in ballots? Is it sending out urgent fundraising appeals today asking its supporters to help Miller in his fight with Murkowski? How strongly will it stand with Joe Miller in the weeks ahead?