As if things weren't going poorly enough for the GOP, yesterday the jury in the Ted Stevens (R-The Tubes) corruption trial came back with a verdict - guilty on all counts. I've noted before the prosecutorial misconduct that plagued Stevens's trial and will, I'm sure, form the core of his appellate issues. What I hadn't realized until yesterday was that Stevens was on tape talking to the guy who did the questionable work at his home and basically admitted to the wrongdoing. I can't find it online, but in ABCNews's coverage last night, they included a snippet in which Stevens said (I'm paraphrasing) that it wouldn't be a big deal if they got caught and wouldn't got to jail. Whoops!
With a week to the election, Stevens is still on the ballot in Alaska and would look headed for certain defeat. He was in a tight fight to begin with, so the conviction certainly doesn't help. Both Sarah Palin and John McCain have called on him to resign. It's not altogether clear what would happen if he does that:
Stevens is not scheduled to be sentenced until after a status hearing in late February, several weeks after he would have been sworn into a new term. Were he then to resign or be forced out by his fellow senators, state law mandates a special election to replace him within 60 to 90 days.That assumes, of course, that Stevens hangs on through next week and wins the election. If he loses, it's a moot question. If he would resign before next Tuesday, could the Alaska GOP get a replacement on the ballot? Should it matter that Stevens sought a speedy trial as a political strategy to clear his name before election day?
But the law is unclear on how, exactly, that would happen. In 2004, the Legislature changed the law to say the governor must appoint a temporary senator pending the special election. But in a ballot initiative the same year, voters said the governor should not have that much power and voted to get by with no temporary replacement.
The state has yet to resolve the conflict.
And putting that aside for the moment, has Stevens lost at least one vote - his own? He is a convicted felon now, after all. And what if he's already voted absentee? The mind boggles.