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United States Senate election in Alaska, 2008

United States Senate election in Alaska, 2008

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The 2008 United States Senate election in Alaska was held on November 4, 2008. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Ted Stevens
Ted Stevens
Theodore Fulton "Ted" Stevens, Sr. was a United States Senator from Alaska, serving from December 24, 1968, until January 3, 2009, and thus the longest-serving Republican senator in history...

 ran for re-election. It was one of the ten Senate races
United States Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the United States Senate were held on November 4, 2008, with 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate being contested. Thirty-three seats were regular elections; the winners were eligible to serve six-year terms from January 3, 2009, to January 3, 2015, as members of Senate Class II...

 that U.S. Senator John Ensign
John Ensign
John Eric Ensign is a former United States Senator from Nevada, serving from January 2001 until he resigned amid an investigation of an ethics violation in May 2011...

 of Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
National Republican Senatorial Committee
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is the Republican Hill committee for the United States Senate, working to elect Republicans to that body. The NRSC was founded in 1916 as the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee...

, predicted as being most competitive. The primaries were held on Tuesday, August 26. Ted Stevens
Ted Stevens
Theodore Fulton "Ted" Stevens, Sr. was a United States Senator from Alaska, serving from December 24, 1968, until January 3, 2009, and thus the longest-serving Republican senator in history...

 was challenged by Democratic candidate Mark Begich
Mark Begich
Mark Peter Begich is the junior United States Senator from Alaska and a member of the Democratic Party. A former mayor of Anchorage, he served on the Anchorage Assembly for almost ten years prior to being elected mayor in 2003...

, the mayor of Anchorage.

On October 27, 2008, Stevens was convicted on seven charges of ethics violations and corruption. If reelected, Stevens would have been the first convicted felon
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

 elected to the United States Senate. On November 18, 2008, the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 projected that Begich had defeated Stevens, making Stevens the longest-serving U.S. Senator ever to lose a re-election bid. Stevens conceded the race to Begich on November 19.

Background


The FBI investigation and subsequent seven count indictment of Ted Stevens, as well as investigation of the state's only Representative, Don Young
Don Young
Donald Edwin "Don" Young is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1973. He is a member of the Republican Party.Young is the 6th most senior U.S. Representative and the 2nd most senior Republican Representative, as well as the 2nd most senior Republican in Congress as a whole...

 (R), has generated some negative feelings in Alaska towards Republicans, even among Republican primary voters. Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (son of the last Democratic Rep. from Alaska, Nick Begich
Nick Begich
Nicholas Joseph "Nick" Begich, Sr. was a Democratic Party member of the United States House of Representatives from Alaska. He disappeared in a plane crash in Alaska in 1972. His son Mark Begich is currently the junior U.S...

) was courted by both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is the Democratic Hill committee for the United States House of Representatives, working to elect Democrats to that body. They play a critical role in recruiting candidates, raising funds, and organizing races in districts that are expected to yield...

 and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is the Democratic Hill committee for the United States Senate. It is the only organization solely dedicated to electing Democrats to the United States Senate. The DSCC's current chair is Sen. Patty Murray, who succeeded Sen. Robert Menendez following...

, but in February 2008 announced the formation of an exploratory committee for the Senate seat. The possible Democratic field also included State Rep. Eric Croft
Eric Croft
Eric Croft was a Democratic State Representative from Anchorage, Alaska and was a candidate in the August 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary election in Alaska...

 and State Senators Hollis French
Hollis French
Hollis S. French II is a Democratic member of the Alaska Senate, representing the M district since 2003. The district covers the East Spenard and Turnagain/Inlet View areas of Anchorage. He is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee....

 and Johnny Ellis
Johnny Ellis
Johnny Ellis is a Democratic member of the Alaska Senate, representing District L since 1992. He currently serves as the Senate Majority Leader. Previously he was a member of the Alaska House of Representatives from 1986 through 1992....

. Former Minority Leader of the Alaska House of Representatives
Alaska House of Representatives
The Alaska House of Representatives is the lower house in the Alaska Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Alaska. The House is composed of 40 members, each of whom represents a district of about 15,673 people . Members serve two-year terms without term limits...

 Ethan Berkowitz
Ethan Berkowitz
Ethan A. Berkowitz is an American politician who was the Alaska State Representative for District 26 from 1997 through 2006, serving as Democratic Party Minority Leader from 1999 to 2006.-Early life and education:...

 was a possible candidate, but decided to challenge Don Young instead. Sensing discontentment within the GOP, conservative Republican Dave Cuddy announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate in December 2007.

Stevens was perceived by many as corrupt, but was also highly regarded by many Alaskans for his ability to steer federal funding toward the state; he was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate entering 2008 (first elected in 1968), and through his seniority he has amassed a great deal of influence there. The selection of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

 as the vice-presidential running-mate of Republican presidential candidate John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 in late August 2008 coincided with a substantial improvement in Stevens' performance in opinion polls. A poll in August showed Begich with a 17% lead, but in early September a poll from the same source showed Begich leading Stevens by only 3%. Begich's campaign and some observers attributed this change to Palin's popularity and the enthusiasm stimulated by her selection, although Palin's own reputation was partially based on her perceived opposition to Stevens or distance from him. The Stevens campaign disputed the low numbers shown in the August poll and said that the numbers had improved in September because Stevens had begun heavily campaigning. His campaign also presented the relationship between Palin and Stevens as positive, contrary to some portrayals.

Stevens was convicted of seven felony counts of failing to report gifts on October 27, 2008. This was considered a serious setback in his already difficult bid for re-election; he had requested and received a quick trial in hopes of winning an acquittal before election day. After the verdict, Stevens maintained his innocence and said that he was still running for re-election.

ADL primary


The ADL ballot contained all of the primary candidates for the Alaska Democratic Party
Alaska Democratic Party
-Introduction:The Alaska Democratic Party is the primary Democratic Party political organization in the state of Alaska, headquartered in Anchorage....

, the Alaskan Independence Party
Alaskan Independence Party
The Alaskan Independence Party is a political party in the U.S. state of Alaska that advocates an in-state referendum which includes the option of Alaska becoming an independent country...

, and Libertarian Party of Alaska
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

.

Democratic

  • Mark Begich
    Mark Begich
    Mark Peter Begich is the junior United States Senator from Alaska and a member of the Democratic Party. A former mayor of Anchorage, he served on the Anchorage Assembly for almost ten years prior to being elected mayor in 2003...

    , Anchorage Mayor
  • Ray Metcalfe
    Ray Metcalfe
    Ray Metcalfe is a politician and political activist in Alaska. Metcalfe has served in the Alaska House of Representatives as a Republican, and later ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate as a Democrat.-Personal life:...

    , Former State Representative and founder of the Republican Moderate Party of Alaska
    Republican Moderate Party of Alaska
    The Republican Moderate Party of Alaska is a political party in Alaska formed by Ray Metcalfe in 1986 as an alternative to what Metcalfe perceived to be a Republican Party dominated by the Religious Right. Only one candidate has ever won an election, a 2002 race for the state senate, but that...

  • Frank Vondersaar, Senate nominee in 2002

Results



Candidates

  • Ted Stevens
    Ted Stevens
    Theodore Fulton "Ted" Stevens, Sr. was a United States Senator from Alaska, serving from December 24, 1968, until January 3, 2009, and thus the longest-serving Republican senator in history...

    , Incumbent U.S. Senator
  • Michael Corey
  • David Cuddy
    David Cuddy
    David Warren Cuddy is a businessman andRepublican Party politician from the U.S. state of Alaska.Dave Cuddy was born in Anchorage, Alaska, where he has spent most of his life. He was named after his uncle, who died in World War II in 1944. He graduated from West Anchorage High School in 1970,...

    , Former state legislator
  • Gerald Heikes, Minister
  • Rick Sikma, Pastor
  • Vic Vickers
    Vic Vickers
    Raymond B. "Vic" Vickers is an American historian, author, and lawyer. He was a Republican Party candidate for the United States Senate seat held by incumbent Ted Stevens of Alaska....

    , former assistant State Comptroller
  • Richard Wanda

Campaign


With three and a half weeks to go before the primary, Stevens still held a large polling lead over chief rival Dave Cuddy, 59% to 19%. Political newcomer Vic Vickers said on July 28 that he expected to pour $750 000 of his own money into his bid to defeat Stevens. According to Rasmussen
Rasmussen
The surname Rasmussen is a Danish and Norwegian surname, meaning "Rasmus' son" . It is the ninth most common surname in Denmark, shared by about 1.9% of the population....

 polling of Alaskans, Cuddy "does nearly as well against Begich" as Stevens, trailing Begich 50% to 35%, while Vickers trailed the expected Democratic nominee 55% to 22%.

Results


In the Republican primary on August 26, results from 70.5% of precincts showed Stevens winning with 63% of the vote; Cuddy had 28% and Vickers had 6%.
Alaska Republican senatorial primary, 2008
Candidate Votes Percentage
Ted Stevens
Ted Stevens
Theodore Fulton "Ted" Stevens, Sr. was a United States Senator from Alaska, serving from December 24, 1968, until January 3, 2009, and thus the longest-serving Republican senator in history...

 (incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

)
66,900 63.52%
David Cuddy
David Cuddy
David Warren Cuddy is a businessman andRepublican Party politician from the U.S. state of Alaska.Dave Cuddy was born in Anchorage, Alaska, where he has spent most of his life. He was named after his uncle, who died in World War II in 1944. He graduated from West Anchorage High School in 1970,...

28,364 26.93%
Vic Vickers
Vic Vickers
Raymond B. "Vic" Vickers is an American historian, author, and lawyer. He was a Republican Party candidate for the United States Senate seat held by incumbent Ted Stevens of Alaska....

6,102 5.79%
Michael Corey 1,496 1.42%
Roderic Sikma 1,133 1.08%
Rich Wanda 732 0.69%
Gerald Heikes 599 0.57%
Totals 105,326 100.00%

Predictions


CQ Politics had rated this race as Leans Democrat. The Cook Political Report considered it Lean Democrat.
The Rothenberg Political Report considered it a Lean Takeover.

Polling

Poll Source Dates administered Begich Stevens

Research 2000
October 28–30, 2008 58% 36%

Rasmussen Reports
October 28, 2008 52% 44%

Research 2000
October 14–16, 2008 48% 46%
Rasmussen Reports October 6, 2008 48% 49%

Research 2000
September 15–17, 2008 50% 44%

Rasmussen Reports
September 9, 2008 48% 46%
Ivan Moore Research August 30 - September 2, 2008 49% 46%
Ivan Moore Research July 31, 2008 56% 35%
Rasmussen Reports July 30, 2008 50% 37%
Rasmussen Reports July 17, 2008 52% 44%

Research 2000
July 14–16, 2008 47% 45%
Rasmussen Reports June 16, 2008 44% 46%
Rasmussen Reports May 14, 2008 47% 45%
Research 2000 May 12–14, 2008 48% 43%
DSCC May 6–10, 2008 51% 44%
Rasmussen Reports April 7, 2008 45% 46%
Research 2000 December 3–6, 2007 47% 41%

Results


Begich won the election by 3,953 votes. Incumbent Stevens had held a lead of over 3,000 votes after election night, but a tally of nearly 60,000 absentee and mail-in ballots released on November 12 erased that lead and reduced the vote margin separating the candidates to less than 0.5%, with further counting, released on November 18, increasing the margin to more than 1% in favor of Begich. On November 19, 2008, Stevens conceded to Begich.

External links


Official campaign websites