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AK-Senate: Begich Wins

UPDATE, 9:00 pm: Democrat Mark Begich has defeated Sen. Ted Stevens (R) in the Alaska Senate race, according to the Associated Press. With roughly 2,500 overseas ballots still to count, Begich, the mayor of Anchorage, leads by 3,724 votes.

"Mark Begich will be an outstanding Senator for Alaska and the country, and with seven seats and counting now added to the Democratic ranks in the Senate, we have an even stronger majority that will bring real change to America," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) in a statement released moments ago.

Stevens has yet to concede the contest and could request a recount.


Democrat Mark Begich has nearly doubled his lead over Republican Sen. Ted Stevens with just 8,000 votes remaining to be counted in the Alaska Senate race, according to tabulations provided by the state's Division of Elections.

With 16,000 of the 24,000 remaining ballots counted, according to the Anchorage Daily News, Begich now has 146,286 votes (47.56 percent) while Stevens has 143,912 votes (46.79 percent).

Under Alaska law, a recount would be mandated only if the final margin is less than .5 percent ; Begich's lead is currently .77 percent. (Hat tip: Fellow numbers geek and Post congressional reporter Paul Kane). If the margin remains over .5 percent, Stevens could still ask for a recount but would have to pay for the costly procedure from his own campaign cash.

Begich trailed Stevens by nearly 3,200 votes on election night but roughly 90,000 votes -- a combination of absentee, early and questioned ballots -- remained uncounted and, as the counting began last week, Begich quickly closed the gap and jumped into the lead.

Should Begich win, it would bring Democratic gains to seven seats in the 2008 election, putting them at 58 seats with two races -- in Minnesota and Georgia -- still up for grabs.

A manual statewide recount began in the race between Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman (R) and comedian Al Franken (D) today and the Georgia runoff between Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) and former state Rep. Jim Martin (D) will conclude on Dec. 2.

Largely overlooked in the Senate Democratic caucus' decision today to allow Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman to remain as chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and, therefore, to keep him caucusing with Democrats, is the prospect that the party could wind up with control of 60 Senate seats when all is said and done in this election.

Democrats are privately optimistic about their chances of overcoming Coleman's 206 vote edge heading the official recount (and some academic studies seem to support that optimism) and believe that the race between Chambliss and Martin is close and could well stay that way all the way through the runoff.

To be clear: A 60 seat, filibuster proof majority for Senate Democrats remains a decided longshot. But, Begich's seeming come-from-behind win brings the party ever closer and there are enough races still undecided to get them to their goal. Likely? No. But still a real possibility.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 18, 2008; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Why Clinton Can't Decide


Congratulations to Begich. From my perspective in Montana, it is good to see another new Democratic Senator from the West. Alaska and Montana share a lot of the same issues.

As for the last two seats, it is certainly in the realm of possibility that, out of 2.9 million Minnesota votes, a 200-plus margin now enjoyed by Coleman could be reversed in a recount and addition of some provisional ballots not yet certified.

I for one, would enjoy the color that Franken is likely to inject into Senate debates.

As far as Chambliss is concerned it is probably a long shot to overtake him in a runoff. But anything is possible. We could use more Democrats in the Senate with a southern perspective too.

But like horseshoes, close will count. Though the GOP seems to have purged most moderates from the party, there is still the three moderate Republican New England senators, who might be less likely to filibuster against needed economic actions. McCain is also less likely to be an obstrutionist for it's own sake. So if the Democratic majority settles out at 58-42, it shouldn't be counted as some kind of failure. It's still a large majority that can get a lot done, with and without the help of Republican moderates. I think Republicans are going to walk on eggshells a bit when it comes to Obama's economic initiatives. If they do stage a filibuster on a major economic issue, they risk still being blamed for the bad economy, putting more GOP incumbants at risk in 2010.

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | November 19, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

"Can you see clearly now how many paid Obama bloggers there were on here? doing shifts harassing other posters."

Hey, 37th and KOZ, I'm a volunteer, no one ever offered to pay me to blog for Obama.

Just give it up, you're trying to blame Democrats for something, and there's no one to blame but the evangelical wingnuts and the sleazy Republicans who created this sour political cesspool you continue to float around in.

And if there ever was a simpler answer, I can't find it. The problem with the Republicans is that all the self-righteous psuedeo-christians were glad to jump into bed with the libertine libertarians in their party.

When your party is dominated by two opposing forces, you can expect some sort of critical mass, which is exactly what you got this time around.

Seriously, if George Allen were a Democrat, he's be telling you he wants to kick your soft Republican teeth down your whiney Republican throat.

But none of us Democrats would ever make such a vile statement.

Please, though, stop whining. You are embarassing your fellow GOPers.

Posted by: JEP7 | November 19, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

The great news is that Palin won't be the self appointed senator from AK anytime soon.


Good bye caribou barbie, you're sick in the head.

Good bye all of Alaska, Good bye Ted.

(with apologies to the book Goodnight Moon).

Posted by: Heerman532 | November 19, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I never should have counted on Sarah for a vice-presidential pardon.

Posted by: rjldec1 | November 19, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Palin now gets a chance to devout her attention to writing her book and moving from the middle class to millionaire status. Her shopping spree during the campaign shows she is well prepared to handle her new economic status. At least in her next campaign she'll be able to afford to buy her own clothes!

President elect Obama is wise enough not to count on a 60 seat Democratic Senate. By reaching out to Senator McCain so soon after the election he is showing that he wants to build his own coalition in the Senate - made up of both Democrats and Republicans to ensure quick passage of his legislative agenda. He is showing why he is going to make a great leader - leading by example. By reaching out to McCain, supporting Lieberman he is showing others in Congress that we need to set aside partisan politics and differences in order to work on the pressing problems facing our nation. He is attempting to fulfill one of his campaign promises - reaching across the aisle to get things accomplished because he knows that when he gets into office our national needs cannot be stalled by partisan bickering. He built a grassroots support base for his agenda among the American voters, now he is working on firming up his support base in Congress.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | November 19, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"Can you see clearly now how many paid Obama bloggers there were on here? doing shifts harassing other posters."

my last post was in response to this drivel.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | November 19, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"Its always interesting how in the Congressional and State races.. when a Democrat is behind by a few hundred or a few thousand... they always end up winning.

Can't have anything to do with ACORN ?
Posted by: SeanC1
You are not very bright are you? Acorn did voter registration, that isn't fraud, if the fraudulent voter actually voted that is fraud...quit watching Foxnoise, this has been debunked if you would actually study and research the issue...remembet this phrase, "he who has not sinned cast the first stone" I'm sure the repukes have done some dubious thins also, so STFU, look that up in the urban dictionary.

Posted by: woodard3 | November 19, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

if you seriously believe this, you're nuttier than a s-house rat.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | November 19, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The Stevens defeat means no chance of a special election that Gov Palin might enter to reach the Senate in 2009. But there is still the possibility Palin could run against Sen. Lisa Murkowski who is up in 2010. Palin will be finishing her term as governor (which she won by beating Lisa's father) and I doubt she would have any qualms about entering a Republican primary. She endorsed Rep. Young's opponent in his primary this year.

Plus, Palin would likely beat Murkowski.

Posted by: moorich | November 19, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"He hasn't been sentenced yet (and he's appealing, anyway)."

Come now, SeanC1, Sen. Stevens is not very appealing at all.

Posted by: carlalien | November 19, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

"so I'm confused about one thing. If Stevens was convicted of seven felonies, how is he not in jail?"

He hasn't been sentenced yet (and he's appealing, anyway).

Posted by: SeanC1 | November 19, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse


Can you see clearly now how many paid Obama bloggers there were on here? doing shifts harassing other posters.




Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 18, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Not really, only compulsive / obsessives like you are still interested. I take a quick look at the blogs every few days but the election is over. There are things to post about but you are still making the same posts you were making during the election. You need to get a life. I am serious, I still have people calling me who worked on the campaign who want to get together. Sounds like fun but enough is enough, I have a business to get back to. They have to get back to their lives as well. I think once the inauguration is over people will settle down.

Posted by: popasmoke | November 19, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Coleman in MN must be worried now. That Republican passion for challenging votes and voters will come home to roost in any recount that values the 'intent' of the voter as Minnesota does. The early votes and the questionws ballots put Begich over the top, and they just may run in Franken's favor as well.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | November 19, 2008 6:37 AM | Report abuse

so I'm confused about one thing. If Stevens was convicted of seven felonies, how is he not in jail?

Posted by: DDAWD | November 19, 2008 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Bye-bye Uncle Ted....

Posted by: RickJ | November 19, 2008 4:27 AM | Report abuse

Of course that's just for two years. In two years there's going to be a lot smaller pool than 41 to pick from if we want to project an image of bipartisanship. You know what I'm saying?

Posted by: jdunph1 | November 18, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Let's say the dems get Alaska, Minnesota but not Georgia: 59 ain't bad.

That means that they only have to bribe... I mean water down legislation with enough pork to feed one additional Senator.

Vision = Reality + 1 small bribe (when you have a pool of 41 to choose from you can get a good deal).

That is progress, that is positive change.

Posted by: jrob822 | November 18, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

60 is more symbolic than anything. You set goals long before an election. And you can measure your success by how you meet those goals. I said back in March of '07 that we should be talking about my Party having a working-majority, while non-partisan observers were talking about the other party regaining the majority it just lost.
I voiced my prediction to Charlie Cook and shortly thereafter he called it "apocalyptic and absurd." Not so much anymore.
The main thing is it's a goal-reaching number for many of us. If we get to 60 that would be reaching a lofty goal that many of us set long before the election.

Posted by: jdunph1 | November 18, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

"What's with the fixation on 60 votes for a "filibuster proof" Senate. Democrats with 60 votes does not constitute a "filibuster proof" majority. Cloture votes are seldom straight party-line events."

I agree, but it's got psychological power, and every Democrat increases the odds of cloture, since Democrats are more prone on average to agree with other Democrats on the issues.

In practice, the current 58 seats they have is a very, very strong position (Snowe and Collins alone would make up the difference on a lot of stuff, plus endangered fellows like Gregg, Specter, etc.).

Posted by: SeanC1 | November 18, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

"Its always interesting how in the Congressional and State races.. when a Democrat is behind by a few hundred or a few thousand... they always end up winning.

Can't have anything to do with ACORN ? Liberals never cheat ? nah..."

Stupid stupid. ACORN was voter registration fraud committed by people trying to make easy cash, not voting fraud. Given that Palin's people run elections there, one would be hard-pressed to find such evidence (Don Young won, sadly).

In this case, it simply took a while to count all the ballots, the remainder of which came from Dem-favoured districts.

Posted by: SeanC1 | November 18, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

What's with the fixation on 60 votes for a "filibuster proof" Senate. Democrats with 60 votes does not constitute a "filibuster proof" majority. Cloture votes are seldom straight party-line events. The Senate is individualistic, and cloture votes depend on winning support from the other side or peeling off votes from the majority. It matters little if the Dems have 60, since they are likely to lose some of their own on any give occasion. But they are likely to be able to win some GOP votes, from moderates like Snowe and Collins and Specter and so on.
A Democratic majority that was able to overcome all extended debate threats would probably be in the range of 65-67, which would also mean they were veto proof as well (not that Obama is going to veto a lot of Democratic legislation).
Let's get realistic and practical about how the Senate operates.

Posted by: kmaize | November 18, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse


Can you see clearly now how many paid Obama bloggers there were on here? doing shifts harassing other posters.

Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules


And we're worth every penny!


Posted by: wpost4112 | November 18, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

"Can you see clearly now how many paid Obama bloggers there were on here? doing shifts harassing other posters."

Sigh, not this crap again. Your continued paranoid delusion that only paid staff would oppose you never fails to annoy.

As to Stevens: good riddance. If only the voters had ousted Don Young's corrupt personage while they were at it.

Posted by: SeanC1 | November 18, 2008 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Its always interesting how in the Congressional and State races.. when a Democrat is behind by a few hundred or a few thousand... they always end up winning.

Can't have anything to do with ACORN ? Liberals never cheat ? nah...

Posted by: pvilso24 | November 18, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

How does Chris say it's a decided longshot to get to 60 if he implies we have at least a 50/50 chance to win Minnesota, and Georgia still remains close?
Congratulations to Alaska Democrats for their first representation in Congress in decades.

Posted by: jdunph1 | November 18, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Seven down, two to go. We'll get there. It just took a lot longer than we thought it would. These SOS offices sucked a lot of fun out of election night with these lackadaisacal vote counts. Now the question is will we take the lead in Minnesota before the Georgia runoff in two weeks?
Also, time to recruit Ethan Berkowitz to take out Lisa Murkowski.

Posted by: jdunph1 | November 18, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

AP has called the race for Begich.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 18, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse


Can you see clearly now how many paid Obama bloggers there were on here? doing shifts harassing other posters.




Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 18, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse





Someone else should have the guts to say this however Eric Holder's performance during the Clinton administration was not held in very high regard. In fact, it was pretty much a joke that he was appointed to the position he was.

Seriously folks, are we kidding here?

This transition is becoming a parade of alternation unqualified and underqualified people intertwined with the Clinton administration, including a Clinton herself !

Is this a joke, or complete insanity.

This is quickly becoming a circus.

Does anyone remember the Clinton administration?

I know who does - the Superdelegates.

They voted to get the Clintons and their cronies OUT.

Obviously these people have NO IDEA what they are doing beyond the smoke and mirrors of the campaign.

What are they going to do - call Joe Biden from the 7 - 11 ???





Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 18, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

thanks QualityPie,

It really shouldn't be too hard for CC to post the number of votes that Begich leads by now, but somehow it was left off.

Making clear that the votes would need to skew so improbably towards Stevens is relatively easy - if you care and do the math. CC does neither in his post.

Posted by: grooft | November 18, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

How anyone for the life of me would want to return 2 corrupt fossils like Stevens and Young to Congress is beyond me. I hope Begich wins it, and we're rid of Stevens -- and indirectly, Palin, too.

Posted by: vegasgirl1 | November 18, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse





Is someone going to review Obama's credit card receipts??? Sort of bizarre however it needs to be done. The FEC should look into that, wasn't there a complaint already filed?





Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 18, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Do the math:

There are roughly 7700 votes left uncounted, and Begich leads by 2374.
To win, Stevens has to win 2374 out of those 7700, and at least split the remaining votes;
that half of roughly 5326 votes is 2663, ON TOP OF the 2374 to catch up.

Total? Stevens has to win about 5037 out of 7700 from here.
That's about a 2-to-1 ratio. That's NOT happening.

Remember, these are specifically LATE-CAST mail-in votes, absentee or domestic.
Which means, these are voters that could've voted earlier, but waited until the last minute.
Which means they waited until after the trial verdict was in.

Begich is in. Book it.

(Further math: Looks like the automatic recount would be triggered if Stevens can get
within about 1450 votes of Begich; that means making up ground to the tune of about a thou,
which means winning the 7700 to-be-counteds 4350-to-33-50 or so.
I still think that's too much, given the voted-late profile of this batch,but even of that happens,
it's a bit too big for the recount to stand much of a chance of overturning the initial final count.
It wouldn't be like the 200-vote margin in the impending Minnesota recount.)

Posted by: QualityPie | November 18, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Damn it! Lieberman is NOT a Democrat and is no more likely to be part of a group of 60 preventing a filibuster than is Senator Snowe or Specter or Collins or Lugar or any of the Republicans up for reelection in 2010 who do not want to appear to be an obstructionist by heir constituents. How in the world can anyone trust this jerk after all that he has done? We know how inflexible he is on homeland security and his good war and vouchers for his religious schools (all good Republican issues). Yet people keep writing as though he'd vote against those issues when Republicans filibuster in such a way as to promote them. Yeah! Sure! Somebody is living in a dream world.

Posted by: ksteve | November 18, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Enough already on prefixing Franken with the "comedian" tag every time there is a piece on the senate race in Minn. After a while it comes across somewhat demeaning. Is that his only qualification? If he were a "engineer" would you use that as introduction?

Posted by: mendonsa | November 18, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

I thought Begich ran a pretty "Obama" like campaign and I would be criticizing him for not taking on Uncle Ted more directly if this hadnt turned around. I hate to think I am advocating going negative, but when you are running against a convicted felon...what would Karl (or Atwater) do is not my mantra, but Begich ran a pretty soft campaign. And we Alaskan are not soft folk (Palin excepted).

From where the rest of these ballots are from, turn out the lights the parties over!

I guess that mean we have to keep our Gov. Too bad, it would have been fun to have Milbank lampoon her for six years.....

Now about that Don Young....

Posted by: WOW9 | November 18, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

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