Lessons from Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s 2010 write-in victory.
After revelations emerged November 9 that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore allegedly assaulted a 14-year-old girl decades ago, Republicans began talking about an out-of-the-box solution to the problem of having a toxic nominee: a write-in campaign.
Two names floated to the top: Luther Strange, who lost to Moore in the GOP runoff, and Jeff Sessions, who held the seat before he became attorney general earlier this year. A wild card, Lee Busby, retired Marine colonel and “lifelong Alabamian” just declared his own write-in bid earlier this week.
But a write-in campaign is an incredible feat to pull off. Only one member of the US Senate has won as a write-in in the past 50 years: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
“You have to start with the premise that they’re extraordinarily difficult in general, and rare to be successful,” Edward Foley, the Director of Election Law at Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University, said. “The Murkowski example is not the norm — it’s for sure the exception. But it also proves it’s not impossible.”
An examination of the Murkowski 2010 write-in campaign shows that an Alabama effort is probably futile. At best, write-in candidates will likely split the Republican vote. Queasy Alabama Republicans have few viable options on December 12. If they cannot stomach voting for Democrat Doug Jones, Roy Moore will be their senator.