Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What's the matter with Alaska?

A convicted felon - a convicted felon - may very well have won re-election to the United States Senate.

While change sweeps the nation, Alaska is voting for more of the same. With results from 99% of the state's precincts in, Senator Ted Stevens — who on Oct. 27 was convicted in federal court on seven counts of corruption — held a slim 4,000 vote lead over his opponent, Anchorage mayor Mark Begich. With about 50,000 uncounted absentee and early ballots, a definitive winner could be days or weeks away.

This, of course, seems a scandalous result. Stevens, the country's longest-serving Senator, was found guilty of concealing improper gifts he received from an oil services company executive. Although he claims he is innocent and is fighting to overturn the court decision, Stevens' Senate colleagues, particularly from his own party, have made it clear that the 84-year-old will not be allowed to rejoin the Senate if his conviction is upheld. Although it's never happened before, the senate could move to expel a senator by two-thirds vote.
The power of pork. Stevens brings home the federal bacon to the rugged individualists of Alaska, and so they are willing to re-elect him despite his being a convicted felon.


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