Posts Tagged ‘Ted Stevens’

This is a bit late, but I just found the Washington Post Investigative Unit’s list of the Top Ten Scandals of 2008, and it’s a doozy.

They are all good and memorable scandals which will be talked about for years, although I would beg to differ. Take Hillary Clinton’s Bosnia sniper fire story off the list and replace it with Sarah Palin’s $180,000 wardrobe funded by the Republican National Committee. One was a case of Walter Mitty-style fabulism which provided for a moment of humor once the reality of the story was verified and little else. The other raised profound questions about judgment and management of campaign funds, and by extension the potential decisions John McCain and Sarah Palin would have made in the White House if they had been elected.

With a new administration, an expanded Democratic majority in Congress, and a full blown financial crisis, expect 2009 to be another bombshell and scandal-rich year for the press to investigate.

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capitol-hill-night

That’s the Democrats’ count in the Senate now that Ted Stevens has conceded the race to Anchorage mayor Mark Begich. He’s the state’s first Democratic senator since Mike Gravel back in 1981.

But amazingly, the 2008 campaign is not over yet. The Minnesota Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman is razor-thin and the recount is about to begin. In Georgia, because no candidate broke the 50 percent mark, the top two candidates (incumbent Saxy Chambliss and challenger Jim Martin) have to go to a runoff election scheduled for early December to settle it once and for all.

If Al Franken is able to turn around the 200+ vote deficit and Jim Martin pulls off an upset, the Democrats hit the big 60.

Before it gets too late, I want to note my predictions for the downballot races.

Senate:
The Democrats currently hold a 51-49 majority. They need to a net gain of 9 seats tonight to get a 60-seat supermajority. These are the races which will ultimately determine the size of the new Democratic majority in January.

Alaska: Ted Stevens (R) v. Mark Begich (D)
Begich wins by 8-11 points.

Colorado: Bob Schaffer (R) v. Mark Udall (D)
Udall wins by 7-10 points.

Georgia: Saxby Chambliss (R) v. Jim Martin (D)
Chambliss wins by 2-5 points.

Kentucky: Mitch McConnell (R) v. Bruce Lunsford (D)
McConnell wins by 3-6 points.

Louisiana: John Kennedy (R) v. Mary Landrieu (D)
Landrieu wins by 6-9 points.

Maine: Susan Collins (R) v. Tom Allen (D)
Collins wins by 7-10 points.

Minnesota: Norm Coleman (R) v. Al Franken (D)
Franken wins 2-5 points.

Mississippi: Roger Wicker (R) v. Ronnie Musgrove (D)
Wicker wins by 4-7 points.

New Hampshire: John Sununu (R) v. Jeanne Shaheen (D)
Shaheen wins by 8-12 points.

New Mexico: Steve Pearce (R) v. Tom Udall (D)
Udall wins by 10-13 points.

North Carolina: Elizabeth Dole (R) v. Kay Hagan (D)
Hagan wins by 4-7 points.

Oregon: Gordon Smith (R) v. Jeff Merkley (D)
Merkley wins by 4-7 points.

Virginia: Jim Gilmore (R) v. Mark Warner (D)
Warner wins by 24-27 points.

If my predictions are correct the Democrats will pick up 8 seats, leaving them at 59-41 in the Senate, one seat short of the supermajority. The GOP firewall in the South will hold, but if they lose McConnell or Chambliss the Dems hit 60.

House of Representatives:
The Democrats currently hold a 236-199 majority. Expect them to pick up between 25-30 more seats tonight. I also expect the Republicans to claim one significant Democratic scalp: John Murtha, largely due to his self-inflicted wounds when he said western Pennsylvania was racist.

What happens if Stevens is re-elected next week but later resigns or is expelled from the Senate? Former defense analyst Chuck Spinney makes a very interesting point:

“How much do you want to bet the Sarah Palin won’t replace Ted Stevens after being induced to run in a special election by “popular demand”?

Hat tip to James Fallows.

McCain says it’s time for Ted Stevens to go, but his running mate does not.

The Republican presidential ticket appears to be of two minds on whether or not convicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens should resign from the Senate. John McCain called on the longest serving Republican senator to step down today in a statement.

“It is clear that Senator Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will be spurred by these events to redouble their efforts to end this kind of corruption once and for all,” McCain said.

His running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has not called on her home state colleague to resign. While the statement released by the campaign today had the McCain-Palin logo on it, it was a statement only from the Arizona senator. CNN reported Monday that Palin called the conviction a “sad day” for Alaska and said she was confident that Stevens “from this point on will do the right thing for the people of Alaska.” She did not respond when asked if she would vote for Stevens on Nov. 4.

Mixed messages during the last days of the campaign? Not a good idea.

Update: Looks like Sarah Palin figured out it wasn’t a good idea to be seen as potentially aligning herself with a convicted felon. She got with the program and called for Stevens to go.

The feds got a clean sweep in their case against Sen. Ted Stevens, with the jury returning guilty verdicts on all seven counts.

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted today of lying on financial disclosure forms to hide tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and renovations to his Alaska home that were financed mostly by a powerful business executive and his oil services company.

The verdict was announced just after 4 p.m. in a packed courtroom in U.S. District Court in Washington. Stevens (R) sat quietly as the jury foreman said the panel had reached a unanimous decision and found Stevens guilty on all seven counts of filing false financial disclosure forms.

Jurors, who re-started their deliberations at 9:30 a.m. today when a juror was replaced by an alternate, were somber as they walked into the courtroom to deliver the verdict and did not look at Stevens. No sentencing date has been set, and Stevens’s attorneys are expected to file motions seeking to have the verdict set aside.

Despite the guilty verdict, Stevens remains on the ballot in Alaska, where he is locked in a tight race with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

If he can pull off an upset victory, Stevens could remain in the Senate for months, if not longer, if he chose to appeal the verdict. Tradition allows him to exhaust his appeals before the ethics committee begins expulsion hearings, according to the Historical Office of the Senate.

Talking Points Memo has been all over this story since the beginning and they are a good source to explain what this mess is and how Stevens got himself into it.

Nationally, the implications are pretty simple. Stevens was in a tough reelection race to begin with after the indictment. Now that he’s been convicted a week before Election Day, the GOP can’t put a replacement on the ticket and odds are he is going to lose. If he loses, that puts the Democrats one seat closer to the 60-seat supermajority. However, sentencing is not until January of next year and a lot can happen in 3 months.

Here’s a remote scenario for you (hat tip to kos) by which Republicans might still be able to hang on to his Senate seat: If Stevens manages to win re-election, McCain loses next week, and Stevens is expelled or resigns from the Senate after exhausting the appeals process, Sarah Palin can pick a replacement to fill out his term and keep the seat in Republican hands. Correction: According to the New York Times, Palin would most likely call a special election to find someone to replace Stevens. If this happens, I think it would give the Republicans a better shot of retaining the seat.

Unlikely, but possible.

Update: According to this analysis by The Hill, Ted Stevens was his own worst enemy on the witness stand.

Update II: Now that he’s a convicted felon, Stevens can’t vote for himself next week. (Hat tip to kos)

Update III: The New York Times mentions another intriguing possibility for Stevens – getting a presidential pardon or a commutation of his sentence before George W. Bush leaves office in January.

Update IV: The Hill reports that Stevens will be allowed to vote next week.