DeMint pushes for Stevens' expulsion

The highly conservative South Carolina senator wants the GOP to purge itself of indicted Alaskan Sen. Ted Stevens.

By Vincent Rossmeier

Published November 7, 2008 7:15PM (EST)

Add Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens to the list of people fellow Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., will not tolerate. DeMint, who openly opposes allowing homosexuals or single mothers to teach in public schools and also wants to strip federal funding from Berkeley, Calif., reportedly now wants Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to expel Stevens from the Senate in the near future.

On Oct. 27, a jury found Stevens guilty of seven felony counts, meaning the eldery senator could face up to five years in prison. According to an article in Politico Friday, DeMint is angry because McConnell is allowing a convicted felon to remain in the GOP Senate caucus. Last week, McConnell called on Stevens to resign and said there was "zero chance" Stevens wouldn't be expelled if he decided to refuse resignation, but the minority leader has also pledged to allow Stevens time to appeal the conviction. DeMint, whom the National Journal ranks as the Senate's most conservative member, wants the expulsion to happen during a "lame duck" Senate session later this month.

Despite his indictment, Stevens managed to mount a strong bid for reelection. Currently, with scores of absentee votes yet to be counted, Stevens leads his Democratic challenger, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, by a few thousand votes.

Some other members of the GOP don't appear to share DeMint's desire to distance the party from Stevens' alleged corruption. Thursday, former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin backtracked on a statement she made last week calling for Stevens to resign. The New York Times reports:

Asked Wednesday whether she still believed that Mr. Stevens should resign, Ms. Palin was circumspect, saying only that the people of Alaska "just spoke on the issue at the ballot box and that 'they want him as their senator.'" She said Mr. Stevens should decide "what happens next."

Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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Jim Demint R-s.c. Ted Stevens