Alaska senator Ted Stevens, Ted Stevens conviction, Ted Stevens re-election
Gerald Herbert/AP
Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska

Ted Stevens to Seek Re-election Despite Conviction

October 28, 2008 04:34 PM
by Isabel Cowles
Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens will seek re-election despite his recent corruption conviction, which may add to the list of GOP troubles.

Stevens Maintains Innocence and Candidacy

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was charged with seven counts of lying about Senate disclosure forms as he failed to report more than $250,000 in personal amenities and gifts.

Stevens, who has represented Alaska for 40 out of its 49 years of statehood (the territory became a state in 1959), has enjoyed a wide base of support in Alaska. Many of his constituents call him “Uncle Ted” for his ability to garner federal funds for state projects.

The senator maintains that he is not guilty, and has indicated that he will appeal the charges. Stevens asserted in a written statement, "I am innocent. This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial. I ask that Alaskans and my Senate colleagues stand with me as I pursue my rights. I remain a candidate for the United States Senate."

If elected on Nov. 4, Stevens would serve his seventh term as representative of Alaska. Stevens is set to run against Democrat Mark Begich, who has recently caught up in the polls and may take the lead after Stevens’ conviction.

Opponents are seizing the chance to shift Alaska leadership into Democratic hands. Patti Higgins, who chairs the Alaska Democratic Party, said in a written statement, “Senator Stevens' felony convictions are very serious and he should immediately resign from the Senate. Alaskans deserve better from their public officials, it's time for us to elect an ethical and honest senator who will move this state forward."

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin offered a reserved reaction to the charges made against Stevens. Despite her image as a corruption fighter, Palin did not demand that Stevens resign or drop out of his re-election race. "I'm confident Senator Stevens will do what's right for the people of Alaska," Palin said in a statement.

The fallout of Stevens’ conviction may have serious implications for the Republican Party as the GOP faces a series of close senatorial races on Nov. 4.

Background: Sen. Stevens found guilty of corruption

Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each of the seven charges made against him for lying about personal gifts. However, because of sentencing guidelines, he is unlikely to serve a long prison term. Sentencing will take place on Jan. 26, and if Stevens is elected on Nov. 4, the Senate has the right to pressure him to resign.

Related Topic: Stevens verdict a “stain on a GOP brand”

According to the Los Angeles Times, “[Stevens’] verdict is yet another stain on a GOP brand... Although it shouldn't directly hurt a specific Republican candidate, it adds to a general malaise that has enveloped the party—and which many GOP officials fear will only get thicker with next week's election results.” If that is the case, the GOP may face several losses during the upcoming elections in Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado. New Hampshire may also go to a Democratic candidate.

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