Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Will Alaska voters vote for the convicted Ted Stevens on November 4?

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Originally published on on Mon, 10/27/2008 – 2:41pm

UPDATE: A small clarification to Alaska’s senator replacement. If Stevens gets elected, and he can’t fulfill the term (in jail, etc.), since there would be more than 30 calendar months after the date of the vacancy, a special election has to be called. Gov. Palin could still run in that seat, and only give up her governor’s chair if she wins.

Okay, Alaska voters. It’s up to you. Do you vote for a sitting U.S. Senator, your Senator since Christmas Eve 1968, even though he’s been convicted on all 7 counts of falsifying disclosure forms?

Ted Stevens’ fate, on one level, was decided in a courtroom earlier this afternoon. But the voters still get a say. Stevens is on the ballot, and will remain in a race against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich on Tuesday.

In most situations, a conviction would be good enough reason to not vote for a candidate. And the consensus from Alaska is that Begich now has a big advantage due to the conviction.

But this is Alaska, where anything can happen. After all, Stevens got 63 percent of the primary vote, even though he was under indictment.

And to be fair, there is precedent for Alaska voters to vote for Stevens. If we go back to 2000, when Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was running for the U.S. Senate, was killed in a plane crash on October 17. And in 2002, Paul Wellstone, running for re-election in the U.S. Senate from Minnesota, was killed in a plane crash on October 25.

Missouri voters in 2000 knew they were really voting for Jean Carnahan, Mel’s widow. In Minnesota, Wellstone was replaced on the ballot by former Vice President and U.S. Senator Walter Mondale. But voters were voting for the spirit of the recently deceased men.

Stevens, 84, is very much alive, even if he is facing jail time. But Alaska voters could vote for the spirit of Stevens, with the understanding that Sarah Palin would likely control the destiny of Stevens’ Senate seat.

Palin, or Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell if Palin is elected vice president, would have the sole discretion to select a replacement. Like Jean Carnahan, that replacement would serve for two years until another election to fill out the term.

The question is whether Gov. Palin will tip her hat and say who might be the replacement for Stevens. Then again, with appeals, who knows when (or if) Stevens would go to jail. Palin is in a difficult situation, also running for vice president, is letting on that she might pick herself.

All of this becomes irrelevant if Alaska voters vote for Mark Begich on Tuesday. But with 8 days until the election, voters will have to decide which direction they want from the U.S. Senate. And we may be up late on November 4 trying to find that out.


Written by democracysoup

October 27, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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