Democrat Mark Begich wins Senate seat in Alaska

The Associated Press is reporting that Democrat Mark Begich has defeated Ted Stevens for the U.S. Senate:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, narrowly lost his re-election bid Tuesday, marking the downfall of a Washington political power and Alaska icon who couldn't survive a conviction on federal corruption charges. His defeat to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich moves Senate Democrats closer to a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.

Stevens' ouster on his 85th birthday marks an abrupt realignment in Alaska politics and will alter the power structure in the Senate, where he has served since the days of the Johnson administration while holding seats on some of the most influential committees in Congress.

The crotchety octogenarian built like a birch sapling likes to encourage comparisons with the Incredible Hulk, but he occupies an outsized place in Alaska history. His involvement in politics dates to the days before Alaska statehood, and he is esteemed for his ability to secure billions of dollars in federal aid for transportation and military projects. The Anchorage airport bears his name; in Alaska, it's simply "Uncle Ted."

Tuesday's tally of just over 24,000 absentee and other ballots gave Begich 146,286, or 47.56 percent, to 143,912, or 46.76 percent, for Stevens.

A recount is possible.

"He symbolizes Alaska's legitimacy, that Alaska is a player on the national stage as much as anybody else," University of Alaska Anchorage history professor Steve Haycox said.

Stevens' loss was another slap for Republicans in a year that has seen the party lose control of the White House, as well as seats in the House and Senate. It also moves Democrats one step closer to the 60 votes needed to overcome filibusters in the Senate. Democrats now hold 58 seats, when two independents who align with Democrats are included, with undecided races in Minnesota and Georgia where two Republicans are trying to hang onto their seats.

Things brings the number of Senate seats picked up by Democrats to 7.

Discuss.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Hmm, I'm pretty sure Begich won a seat in the U.S. Senate -- not the Alaska Senate.

    That said,

    YEEEEEEEEEHAAA!

  • (Show?)

    HOT DAMN! 58! 58! 58!

    (And thanks, Pete. That's one of my pet peeves, too. I've edited the post.)

  • (Show?)

    Now, we wait for Minnesota and Georgia...c'mon!!!

    I can see 60 Senate seats from my house...

  • admiral_naismith (unverified)
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    "Uncle Ted"?

    Really?

    As in, your creepy uncle Ted with the cold, cold fingertips?

  • (Show?)

    At 04:18:17 PM Alaska time the State of Alaska unofficial results page posted 150,728 (47.76%) for Begich and 147,004 (46.58%) for Stevens. Unless something changes drastically, looks like Stevens would have to pay for any recount.

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)
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    It will be interesting to see if Begich gets on any energy committees since he supports drilling in ANWR.

  • steve conn (unverified)
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    There's a lesson in Begich's win for Oregon voters who used to elect Progressives and honor Progressive principles. Wayne Morse? Anyone remember that name? Oh well. Bob Bird a third party candidate who was anti-war and pro-life from the Alaska Independenced Party, took 13,000 votes on a 28,000 budget and won the race for Begich. He was excluded from statewide debates and major newspaper coverage. Think about it the next time you decide to exclude a Ralph Nader from your ballot.

  • (Show?)

    The idea that 60 seats = "filibuster proof majority" is never questioned but seems quite questionable.

    Two of the 60 are independents. On numbers of issues there are center-right to conservative Ds who might support filibusters.

    Democratic leaders have never in recent decades been very good at imposing party discipline.

    Whether it's 58 or 59 or 60 what it really means is that there's more chance of cutting off some filibusters, sometimes drawing in a few Rs, obviously more to work with with each additional vote. But it also depends on how hard the leadership is willing to fight.

    Recent history is not encouraging to me, but as people are forgetting how to say at an alarming rate, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating," so we'll have to see.

    (Regarding the increasingly commmon bastardization "the proof is in the pudding," there is a Swedish Christmas Eve dinner tradition of serving rice pudding for dessert in which an almond is hidden, the person who gets the almond being supposed to get married in the next year. This can be done randomly or the system can be gamed to maximize jollification or embarrassment.)

  • keshacoggins (unverified)
    (Show?)
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