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Stevens Guilty Verdict Complicates Re-election Bid

Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska will stay on the ballot after his conviction Monday on seven felony counts, amid Sen. John McCain's call for his resignation. Anchorage Daily News reporter Michael Carey assesses the case and how it's playing out in Alaska.

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    A day after a Washington jury found the Alaska senator guilty of seven felony corruption charges, we take a closer look at the political implications of the verdict and gauge reaction in Stevens' home state with Michael Carey, host of a weekly political program for Alaska Public Television and columnist for the Anchorage Daily News. He joins us now from Anchorage.

    Michael Carey, was the trial and its outcome yesterday closely followed in the state?

  • MICHAEL CAREY, Anchorage Daily News:

    Intensely. It was the lead story virtually every day in the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska's largest newspaper, and also on the television stations here, especially Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate.


    Now, before the jury announced its verdict, this already was one of the closest Senate races in the country. Is the verdict already having an impact?


    We think so, but we really don't know. It's going to take a few days.

    There's been a great deal of response in favor and support of Senator Stevens, particularly on talk radio, where people have called in to say they've known him for years, they trust him, they think he got a raw deal.

    Some of them even say, "We don't care how they do it in Washington, D.C. We love Ted."

    But I think, as time passes and people begin to look at what the alternatives are for Ted Stevens, they may make a different decision when they finally come to vote.


    Didn't Senator Stevens from the outset push for a fast verdict on this, push for the jury trial to go ahead right away so that there'd be a judgment before the election?


    Yes, that was his idea. He pushed the prosecutors and told them he wanted the trial soon. And under the law, he had that right and proceeded with it. I don't think, quite obviously, he didn't get the outcome he expected or wanted.


    What have the state Republicans, who are very prominent and strong in Alaska, had to say about this verdict?


    Well, the official spokesman of the Republican Party came out and said, you know, not only is this a dark day for Alaska, but we should — we have to worry about Mark Begich, the Democrat, becoming a U.S. senator or what it might mean if the Democrats have 60 senators and a filibuster-proof Senate. But the Republican Party now is deeply divided over the response of John McCain and Sarah Palin.