Ted Stevens is out
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.
The numbers now are not looking good. Granted, it looks like Saxby Chambliss in Georgia and Norm Coleman in Minnesota will retain their seats in the Senate, so that means the Democrats won't have a filibuster-proof majority. But why did we have to go down this road? Seriously, why didn't the GOP move to oust him?
This is something that has harmed us repeatedly in the last eight years. The GOP seems to circle the wagons around our scandalous characters -- no differently than Democrats do -- and when that happens, our base isn't pleased with that behavior. "Dollar" Bill Jefferson is probably going to win reelection in Louisiana despite the fact his corruption trial will begin the week of his run-off race which shows that Democrats really don't care much about the crooked politicians in their party.
In other Senate news John McCain thinks he's still relevant, and is seeking a fifth term in the Senate. As we're trying to realign and retool the party -- an attempt to return to our core principles -- I urge Arizonans to not help him. It's time that his brand of Republicanism be left by the wayside. After all, how many of you, dear readers, got ticked when McCain talked about reaching across the aisle? I'm betting a fair amount of you, and we're already seeing that John McCain has gone back to his old ways in the Senate. After conceding the election, he went back to his buddies in the media, and was lovingly embraced. He reached out to Obama, and promised to work with him, and the democrats gave him a warm welcome home.
It doesn't matter if it's Stevens or McCain. The Republican brand is severely soiled, and the conservatives are fed up with hat happened over the last eight years. Bipartisan outreach didn't help us one iota. Ignoring the problems that Stevens brought to the dinner table doesn't help hold onto the base's trust. So hopefully we can send John McCain onto retirement. Maybe, just maybe, we can bring this party back from the brink of darkness.