For Alaska's Joe Miller, handcuff incident adds to mounting troubles
Security guards for Senate candidate Joe Miller of Alaska put a journalist in handcuffs Sunday. It was only the latest problem to beset the Miller campaign in recent weeks.
When Joe Miller was in Washington being feted last month at Republican fundraisers as a rising conservative star, he was so confident of winning election as Alaska’s next US senator that he tweeted that it might be time to “do some house hunting” in the capital city.Skip to next paragraph
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Three weeks later, Mr. Miller is mired in controversy back home. That tweet sent by the "tea party" endorsed candidate was only one in a series of missteps that threaten to erase the slim lead he held over his two rivals in recent polls.
• After persistent questioning, Miller has admitted that he was disciplined for ethics breaches when he was an attorney employed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker said last week that Miller inappropriately used borough computers for partisan political purposes in 2008.
• Miller skipped a debate Monday and has refused to answer any questions about his personal or professional background.
• Financial disclosure forms submitted six months late present a portrait of someone mired in debt – a jarring note in a campaign that has railed against the federal debt.
• Most infamously, a longtime local journalist who tried to question Miller about the ethics breaches was handcuffed by Miller campaign security guards. Anchorage law enforcement said Monday that no charges would be filed against the journalist or the guards.
The incident – in which beefy, buzz-cut bodyguards dressed like Secret Service agents shackled Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger and threatened to do the same to other journalists – was captured on video.
It has shocked a state where the population is small, politics is extremely local, and citizens are accustomed to having unfettered access to their elected leaders.
A journalist in handcuffs: the fallout
Miller points to the confrontation as a sign that he is standing up to liberals and the mainstream media – a strategy that could win him support among his loyal core of support.
“My basic feeling is people who like Joe would say it’s just fine. People who don’t would say it’s another example of how he’s too extreme. The question is: How will it affect people in the middle?” says Dave Dittman, a conservative pollster and political consultant.