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Ted Stevens has died, family spokesman says

Emma Brown

The Associated Press is reporting that Mitch Rose, a spokesman for Ted Stevens' family, has confirmed the former Alaskan senator's death.

In his 40 years in the Senate, Stevens unapologetically brought home billions of federal dollars and was a major force in shaping his vast state,

Mr. Stevens, 86, was apparently flying to a fishing lodge in southwest Alaska when his plane crashed near the town of Dillingham on Monday afternoon. It was the former senator's second air accident - in 1978, his wife was killed and he was critically injured when their plane crashed on the runway in Anchorage.

Officials have reported that five of the plane's nine passengers have died. Sean O'Keefe, chief executive of aerospace firm EADS North America, former NASA administrator and close friend of Mr. Stevens, was also on board the flight. His condition is not yet known.

Mr. Stevens served for 40 years until 2008. In a storyline that feels a little like a Greek tragedy, he was convicted (a week before the Nov. 2008 elections) of several felonies for failing to disclose campaign gifts. The case was later dismissed by Attorney General Eric H. Holder, who cited misconduct on the part of Stevens' prosecutors, but the dismissal came too late for Mr. Stevens' political career. He narrowly lost his seat to Democrat Mark Begich.

Gruff and short-tempered and always ready to rumble - he was famous for wearing an Incredible Hulk tie during particularly feisty floor debates -- Mr. Stevens was nevertheless beloved by many Alaskans for his ability to direct an outsized proportion of federal largesse to the state.

Though he made national headlines for his unwavering support of the "Bridge to Nowhere," which became a symbol of out-of-control pork spending, "Uncle Ted" funneled home billions of dollars for quieter projects that unquestionably altered the quality of life in Alaska's rural reaches.

His earmarks helped connect Alaskan towns by roads and ferries and brought countless jobs in the defense industry. In tiny villages populated largely by Native Alaskans, Stevens money paid for modern schools, health clinics and airports, and replaced many so-called "honey buckets" with up-to-date sanitation systems.

The full obituary is here.

Mr. Stevens left behind his wife Catherine, six children and an untold number of stories from his years in Washington and Alaska. Please leave your memories of the former senator in the comments section.

UPDATE 4:25 pm: The AP has collected statements and tributes to Stevens from U.S. politicians including President Obama, former President George H.W. Bush, all three members of the Alaska delegation and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

By Emma Brown  |  August 10, 2010; 11:02 AM ET
Categories:  Emma Brown , Politics , Washington DC-area people  | Tags: alaska crash, alaska senator plane crash, did ted stevens plane crash?, dillingham, dillingham plane crash, how did ted stevens die?, plane crash alaska, ted stevens, ted stevens alaska, ted stevens alaska senator jet crash, ted stevens bio, ted stevens dead, ted stevens death, ted stevens died, ted stevens dillingham, ted stevens plane crash  
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Comments

Condolences to the Ted Stevens' entire family.
He was known as a difficult and hardheaded politician; however, he was upfront in doing everything he could for Alaska and was rightfully appreciated for his efforts.

Those who did "combat" with him most likely were angered by him but had to respect his direct, transparent way of doing business.

As for the trumped up charges against him but also to his final loss of office, he adamantly and convincingly denied them, and from the looks of the methods and motives of certain participants in bringing those charges, Sen. Stevens comes out far more believable.

Posted by: pjcafe | August 10, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I will remember Uncle Ted as a champion for Alaska and what he thought was right for the state, regardless of whether I always agreed with him.

Posted by: HappyArmyWife | August 10, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The L.A. Times and People are saying that Stevens predicted he'd die one day in a plane crash. It's not that outlandish for anyone living or working north of the 60th parallel. Up there you fly *everywhere* - to doctor's appointments, to lunch, to work. Most places don't have roads out.

Posted by: Blurgle | August 10, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Sincere condolences to the Stevens and the families of the others who died or were injured in the crash.

However, all I can really picture when I think of Senator Stevens is him screaming "No, No, No" at the rest of the Senate.

Posted by: rogied25 | August 10, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Dem but I thought Ted Stevens was a great man back when the Senate used to function. Title IX is still needed today to force better access for women in school athletics. Sadly, the charges against him were not so much trumped up as relatively minor compared to the big money corruption of the Abramoff bought Republicans many of whom are still on the take and on the make.

Posted by: Dorothy1 | August 10, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Rest in Peace, Uncle Ted. I interned for the Senator in 2007 and he truly was an iconic man. I will never forget his energy and enthusiasm on the hill, he would bypass the escalators and jog up the steps into the Capitol building just to show that he still had it in him at 83. In the mix of the good and the bad, his life is one worth studying and remembering. He grew up during the depression, flew fighter jets in WW2 and put himself through Harvard Law by bartending and donating blood. You don't hear too many stories like those these days.

Posted by: jmr92 | August 10, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

There is no victory in this, but as the flags fly at half staff, I hope that all public officials will consider that the lionizing of this man will send a very bad message to everyone who thinks that a little corruption isn't such a bad thing.

Posted by: creamy | August 10, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I hate to speak ill of the dead, but Stevens represented the worst of pork barrel politics. Bring home the bacon and they'll love you. Forget about whether this helps your country.

It's a shame that the Bush era DOJ prosecutors violated professional ethics to get this guy convicted for accepting bribes. It was right for Holder to kick out the case, but Stevens should have been retried with all of the evidence produced.

Anyone see the similarity of Rangel and Stevens? Two old dinosaurs who hopefully represent the bad old days of arrogance, influence peddling and kick backs.

Posted by: Afraid4USA | August 11, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

I met Senator Stevens at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage during the Alaska Shootout Tournament some years ago. He was very approachable and friendly. Unlike many today, he was a larger-than-life figure in his home state. God bless his family during this difficult time.

Posted by: judgecayer | August 11, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

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