Scandals Don't Hamper Alaskans, But Oust Florida Lawmaker
A sex scandal, a felony corruption conviction and the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" led to some hand wringing and late nights in a handful of congressional races Tuesday.
His colleague, Alaska Rep. Don Young (R), held a nearly 17,000-vote lead against Democrat Ethan Berkowitz, who polls had predicted would unseat the congressman. Young, like Stevens, was embroiled in a corruption investigation and facing scrutiny for a controversial highway-bill earmark that benefited a fundraiser. Young has been Alaska's sole House member since 1973.
Young won his GOP primary by just 304 votes out of the nearly 106,000 ballots cast.
But it was Stevens's victory that made headlines nationwide. The 84-year-old lawmaker has enjoyed a political career as a congressman and senator spanning Alaska's existence as a state. Known affectionately as "Uncle Ted," Stevens vowed to fight the seven felony charges he faced in hopes he could clear his name.
It didn't work out that way, but Stevens appeared to squeak out a narrow victory against his Democratic challenger, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, by a margin of less than 4,000 votes. Still, the race has not been called and 40,000 absentee ballots need to be counted within 10 days.
Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.), whose alleged extramarital affair with a staffer and promise to pay her $121,000 to avoid a lawsuit was reported last month by ABC News, lost his bid for a second term. He conceded just before 10 p.m. last night. (His wife of 23 years announced she was filing for divorce last month.)
Mahoney narrowly won the seat in 2006 on a "faith, family and personal responsibility" platform after six-term Republican Rep. Mark Foley abruptly resigned over sexually charged Internet messages to teenage congressional pages. Mahoney lost convincingly (61 to 38 percent) to his Republican challenger, attorney Tom Rooney.
Elsewhere, the seat of retiring Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi (R), who was forced out of office following his indictment on felony charges of money laundering, extortion and insurance fraud, went to a Democrat, former state lawmaker Ann Kirkpatrick.
Republicans managed to hold on to a seat vacated by Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, whose political career imploded last year following his arrest in a Minneapolis airport men's room sex sting.
Craig announced in September 2007 he would resign because his arrest had made it impossible to serve his constituents. But he reversed course a few days later, saying he wanted to stay in the Senate if he could get his guilty plea dropped. That didn't happen.
Jim Risch, a 64-year-old former prosecutor, defeated Larry LaRocco to take over the seat held by Craig for the past 18 years.
By Derek Kravitz |
November 5, 2008; 1:31 PM ET
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