Begich beats Stevens in Alaska

Convicted felon Ted Stevens finally loses his reelection bid in Alaska, two weeks late and on his 85th birthday.

By Mike Madden

Published November 19, 2008 2:48AM (EST)

Alaska may be willing to put Sarah Palin in the governor's mansion, but voters there still draw the line at sending a convicted felon back to the Senate.

It took two weeks to count all the votes, but tonight the AP called the Alaska Senate race for Democrat Mark Begich, the mayor of Anchorage. He beat Republican Ted Stevens, who was convicted a week before the election of failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts.

On election night, it looked like "Uncle Ted" was going to pull it out, thanks to 40 years of federal largesse he's showered on his constituents. But absentee ballots, counted after the fact, put Begich ahead by about 3,000 votes, or less than 1 percent. A recount is possible, but Democrats were claiming victory.

"With seven seats and counting now added to the Democratic ranks in the Senate, we have an even stronger majority that will bring real change to America," said Chuck Schumer, who held on to his post as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee until the last three races were called, in a statement tonight.

The result means one of the Senate's most crotchety characters won't be back. Stevens, who frequently stalked the halls of the Capitol with an "Incredible Hulk"-themed tie, had gotten more and more snappish over the last few years in office, refusing to answer questions from reporters in the hallway for fear of "gotcha" questions. Also, though he used to be the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversaw federal Internet policy, he clearly didn't understand the topic.

So even though Salon -- like all online publications -- is not usually something that you just dump something on (it's not a big truck), let's try one last time to honor Uncle Ted, who turned 85 today (and whose GOP colleagues didn't have the heart to kick out of the caucus before he lost). Please leave your favorite "Ted Stevens's political career is heading down the series of tubes" puns below.

Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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