Published: Nov 17, 2010 9:00 PM EST
Updated: Nov 17, 2010 6:00 PM EST

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Sen. Lisa Murkowski has become the first Senate candidate in more than 50 years to win a write-in campaign.

Murkowski emerged victorious after a painstaking, two-week count of write-in ballots showed she has overtaken over tea party rival Joe Miller.

Her victory became clear when Alaska election officials confirmed they had only about 700 votes left to count, putting Murkowski in safe territory to win re-election.

Murkowski has a lead of about 10,000 votes, a total that includes 8,153 ballots in which Miller observers challenged over things like misspellings, extra words or legibility issues.

Murkowski is flying back to Alaska to address supporters, telling them that the campaign "made history."

Miller surprised Murkowski in the GOP primary, prompting the incumbent to run as a write-in.