Alaska GOP calls for Begich resignation for Senate revote

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Republican Party of Alaska is requesting United States Senator Mark Begich, Democrat, to resign to pave way for a new election. This request is based on the U.S. Justice Department withdrawing charges against former Senator Ted Stevens.

Current Senator Mark Begich

Stevens was originally convicted in October just before the November election. He lost the election to Begich by a narrow margin. Given that the U.S. Justice Department has dropped charges that had affected the outcome of the election, they may have re-elected Steven if it was done before the election.

According to Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich, Begich won over Stevens only because "a few thousand Alaskans thought that Senator Stevens was guilty of seven felonies." Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, through her SarahPAC spokeswoman, agreed.

Begich indicated that he would not step down as he felt that Alaskans wanted a change and a senator that is "independent as Alaska."

"Today, with our country in a severe recession, it’s more important than ever that we have a senator focused on fixing our economy so Alaskans have the jobs they need to support their families," Begich also stated.

The other U.S. Senator from Alaska, Republican Lisa Murkowski, stated "In light of the good news yesterday, I am sure many of us wish we could turn the clock back to last November. Unfortunately, that is not an option."

The US Department of Justice has asked for corruption charges against former Senator Ted Stevens to be dropped because evidence was withheld from the defense team by the original prosecutors. The Justice Department has stated that it will not retry Stevens.

Former Senator Ted Stevens

In a statement, US Attorney General Eric Holder said, "After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial."

In light of the good news yesterday, I am sure many of us wish we could turn the clock back to last November. Unfortunately, that is not an option.

—Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senator, R-Alaska

Stevens was convicted in October on seven felony counts of lying on senate disclosure forms about gifts, largely in the form of free renovations to his home, received from an oil service company; his conviction is thought to have been a large factor in his November electoral defeat to former Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, the current junior Senator from Alaska. Stevens immediately appealed his conviction and has maintained his innocence.

Stevens, 85, spent the six weeks leading up to the election on trial in Washington and lost just days after being convicted.

Begich’s victory was a coup for Democrats in Alaska. It also was a victory for Democrats in the Senate, who, with Begich’s win, landed 58 of the 60 votes they need to have a filibuster-proof majority.

Begich received 151,767 votes (47.77%) to Stevens' 147,814 (46.52%). The winning margin was 3,953 votes (1.24%). Three other candidates were in the race: Bob Bird of the Alaskan Independence Party (13,197; 4.15%), Ted Gianoutsos (independent) (1,385; 0.44%) and Fredrick D. Haas of the Libertarian Party (2483 0.78%)