Ted Stevens is a real piece of work:
“I’ve not been convicted yet,” Stevens said Thursday in a meeting with the editorial board of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. “There’s not a black mark by my name yet, until the appeal is over and I am finally convicted, if that happens. If that happens, of course I’ll do what’s right for Alaska and for the Senate. … I don’t anticipate it happening, and until it happens I do not have a black mark.”
Stevens reiterated that position during a televised debate late Thursday night, declaring early in the give-and-take with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, “I have not been convicted of anything.”
Please allow me to translate this into Alaskan for you: So far as Stevens and his supporters are concerned, Alaska has always been regarded as the only legitimate venue for the senator’s trial. Other courts, by contrast, carry a degree of legitimacy that’s roughly equivalent to the International Criminal Court, or perhaps to the Zinoviev trial. So the fact that Stevens has in fact been convicted of seven felonies is, to a significant percentage of the public completely irrelevant.
I should add that a lot of folks around here are seriously talking about the possibility that Stevens might win re-election and resign at some point in 2009, regardless of the status or outcome of his appeal. In that event, a special election would be scheduled, with Sarah Palin being a likely contender for the seat. I haven’t decided yet whether I think this is a likely scenario. Whether or not this actually transpires, though, I suspect a lot of Alaskans are going to vote for Stevens on the assumption that reducing the power of Democrats in the Senate is more important than sparing the state further national embarrassment by electing someone who isn’t a crook. And I’d imagine more than a few people will cast votes for Stevens and comfort themselves with the thought that either (a) his conviction will be overturned on appeal, or (b) he’ll hold the seat long enough for a stronger Republican to emerge and deny Mark Begich the seat. If a special election were held sometime in 2009, it would be framed as much by anti-Obama/Reid/Pelosi narratives as anything else. And if Senate Democrats have 59-60 seats after Tuesday, such an election would present an opportunity for the RNC to test-market all the insane shit they’ll be developing for the mid-term elections in ’10.