Thursday, November 13, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Nov. 12 -- Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, who was convicted on felony charges last month, fell behind by more than 800 votes Wednesday as the vote count resumed in his reelection bid.
Democrat Mark Begich, the two-term mayor of Anchorage, began the day down more than 3,200 votes but closed the gap as officials resumed counting early and absentee ballots. The tally was 132,196 to 131,382.
Neither side was claiming victory or conceding defeat, with tens of thousands of outstanding ballots.
"I've always said that this would be a close race," Begich said in a statement. "I'm confident that Alaskans, like the rest of the country, want a new direction in Washington, and ultimately that will be reflected in the results."
Stevens' campaign did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Last month, a federal jury in Washington convicted Stevens of lying on Senate disclosure forms to conceal more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations from an oil field services company.
Begich would be the first Democrat to win a Senate race in Alaska since the mid-1970s. Democrats are also trying to unseat Republicans in unresolved contests in Georgia and Minnesota.
Fellow senators have called on Stevens to resign, and he could face expulsion if he doesn't -- in which case a special election would be held to determine his replacement. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, fresh from her failed run at the vice presidency, said Wednesday that she would be interested in serving in the Senate.