WASHINGTON – She promised to make history, and Wednesday afternoon, it appeared that Sen. Lisa Murkowski had done just that.

Murkowski, who launched a high-profile write-in bid to represent Alaska in the U.S. Senate after losing the Republican primary to Joe Miller in August, appears to be the first write-in candidate to go to the Senate since Strom Thurmond’s 1954 victory in South Carolina.

The Associated Press on Wednesday afternoon officially called the race for Murkowski, although since Nov. 2 it has been relatively clear that the write-in candidate received more votes than both Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams. The outcome became a foregone conclusion Wednesday as election officials neared completion of a hand count of more than 100,000 write-in ballots.

Murkowski returned to Alaska from Washington on Wednesday afternoon and claimed victory at a press conference in Anchorage. However, the race has not yet been certified, and it’s unclear how the Miller campaign will proceed.

Miller, whose tea party-backed candidacy was supported by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, had no immediate response.