Begich Defeats Stevens in Alaska Senate Race
With all but 2500 votes counted, Anchorage mayor Mark Begich (D) now has
of 3724 votes over convicted Sen. Ted. Stevens (R-AK),
ending Stevens' career as the longest serving Republican senator in history.
The remaining votes, which come from overseas voters and igloos so far north that they don't have polling
places, will be counted next week before the tally is finalized.
Begich claimed victory yesterday evening; Stevens has not yet conceded.
A recount is possible, but Alaska uses optical scan machines and previous recounts have not changed the
results much. Begich's victory brings the number of Democrats in the new Senate to 58, with
races in Minnesota and Georgia still undecided.
Stevens' defeat saves the Senate Republican caucus the unpleasant task of ejecting him.
A motion was made yesterday to do so, but it was tabled pending the outcome of the election.
Now with Stevens' defeat, the Republicans don't have to do anything and Stevens' will just slink home
quietly to appeal his convictions on seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure forms.
One of the unsung heroes for the Democrats this year is Bob Bird, who
for the Senate this year as the candidate of the Alaska Independence Party, which
is extremely conservative and also wants Alaska to secede from the United States.
He got over 12,000 votes, virtually all of them coming from Stevens. He tipped
the scales to Begich. It is not known if Begich sent a thank you note to Ralph Nader
for pioneering the role of spoiler 8 years ago.
The trouble with third parties who are running to the left of the Democrats or to the right of
the Republicans is that in a close
race, they usually draw votes from their natural ally and thus elect people they despise.
Mark Begich will be an unusual senator for several reasons. First, his father, Nick Begich, was a
congressman. The senior Begich was on a small plane that took off from Anchorage bound for Juneau on
Oct 16, 1972. The plane never arrived and after 39 days of searching, the Coast Guard gave up looking for it.
Begich's opponent, Don Young (R), won the race and is still in Congress. Second, it is very unusual for
a sitting mayor be elected to the Senate [although Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) was the former
mayor of Chattanooga]. Mayors run for the House all the time, however. Third, Mark Begich will be the only
member of the Senate without a college degree.
In other Alaska news, Ethan Berkowitz (D) has conceded defeat in his House race against Rep. Don Young (R-AK),
who is now the third longest-serving Republican in the current House.
Minnesota Senate Recount to Start Today
All the ballots have now been counted in the Minnesota Senate race and Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)
defeated Al Franken (D) by 215 votes. However, an automatic manual recount of all 2.9 million ballots will
Thousands of contested ballots will be fought over one by one in the coming weeks. In addition, the
25,000 undervotes, mostly in Hennepin and two adjacent counties, will be inspected microscopically
(possibly literally) to try to determine the voters' intent.
The recount will be
overseen by a five-man board consisting of Minnesota secretary of state Mark Richie (D) and four state
judges. The recount could take a month, perhaps longer if there are many court fights. Both sides have
issued content-free spinful remarks on the race. With so many votes sure to be fought over, at this point
the race is a pure tossup.
Status of Other Races
Democrat Tom Perriello showed up in Washington yesterday for
freshman orientation week
and was given an official congressional Blackberry--even though he hasn't actually won yet.
In the VA-05 race, he leads the incumbent, Virgil Goode (R-VA) by 745 votes with all the votes counted.
Goode hasn't decided if will ask for a recount yet.
Both of the candidates in the CA-04 race, Tom McClintock (R) and Charlie Brown (D) also showed up.
Currently McClintock clings to a
562 vote lead.
Similar, both Mary Jo Kilroy (D) and Steve Stivers (R) went to the orientation.
Currently, Stivers leads by 149 votes, but there are 27,000 provisional ballots to be fought over in
court and that battle has
Finally, the "Show me" state is not showing anybody anything. It is taking its sweet time to count
all the votes. At the moment, John McCain
Barack Obama by 4355 votes, but four counties are still counting (now you know why they are called "counties.")
McCain Could Irritate Republicans, Help Obama
John McCain has been endlessly criticized by Republicans for running an
incompetent campaign, and especially for not basing his entire campaign on
attacking Rev. Jermiah Wright. But McCain could have the last laugh. With
Mark Begich likely to be next senator from Alaska, and Al Franken having a
decent chance at winning in Minnesota, the Republicans might be down to 41
senators. That would be just enough to prevent cloture--provide that all 41
Republican senators stuck together. But suppose John McCain, stung by all the criticism
from Republicans, decided to revert back to his former maverick self and work with the
Democrats as he has done in the past (think: Mccain-Feingold on campaign finance reform and
McCain-Kennedy on immigration).
Stronger yet, suppose Obama were to ask McCain to work out deals on
immigration, climate change, earmark reform, and other issues dear to his
heart and then be the 60th vote to get them through the Senate. Mitch McConnell
would be in a blue funk having McCain bypass the Republican caucus and
negotiate directly with Obama, but McCain could do that and Obama is likely
to the idea.
From McCain's point of view, going down in history as the main author of bills on climate change,
immigration, and earmark reform, among other important topics, is a lot better than going down in
history as just another failed presidential candidate.
Cabinet Appointments are Starting to Leak Out
Two potential cabinet appointments are making the leak circuit.
Sen. Hillary Clinton has been offered the job of
secretary of state and Eric Holder, a deputy attorney general in the Clinton
administration, has been offered the job of attorney general.
Although Obama promised changed, he is likely to name many Clinton-era officials
to high positions in his administration because that is by far the best source of
Jack Markell To Be Sworn in Jan. 20 at 12:01 A.M.
So? And Who's Jack Markell? It is a bit
Unlike Barack Obama, who has already
resigned his Senate seat, Joe Biden has said he will not resign his seat until he is sworn in
as Vice President on Jan. 20 at noon. His replacement in the Senate will be selected by the
governor of Delaware, currently Ruth Ann Minner (D). However Minner's term will end when
governor-elect Markell is sworn in--apparently at 12:01 A.M. on Jan. 20. This means that Markell, not Minner,
will name Biden's successor. Biden is hoping that his son, Beau Biden, currently the state's
attorney general will eventuallly succeed him. However, Beau Biden is a member of the state's National
Guard and is about to be shipped off to Iraq, so he can't be appointed now. What Joe Biden is
undoubtedly hoping Markell will do is appoint an elderly former office holder who will keep the seat
warm until 2010 but not run for reelection, so Beau Biden can run in 2010 once he returns from Iraq.
It is possible that Minner refused to appoint a placeholder but Markell agreed. After all, having the
Vice President owe you a favor you could call in later is surely worth something to a new governor.
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