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Monday Briefs December 8, 2008

Posted by roothogreport in Executive, Legislature.
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A few little items that didn’t really merit a post on their own:

  • The District 7 recount is scheduled for tomorrow.  Check here for news as it comes in.
  • The Sarah Palin clothing story resurfaced– the cost of the clothes is now up to $180,000, and the cost of her makeup was $110,000.  I really dislike this story- it feels so tabloid-ey. Even though I find the expenditure wasteful in the extreme and indicative of poor judgment, I’m not planning on bringing it up again unless someone brings charges or something.
  • A grand total of six Alaskans contributed to Obama’s transition fund.  One of them was my sister’s second grade teacher.  Alaska is a small place.
  • Ted Stevens has asked for a new trial in Alaska.  No clue if the request will be granted, but if it is, good luck finding an impartial jury here… at least that’s what Stevens is banking on, I’m sure.

Stochastics: If Stevens Wins October 31, 2008

Posted by roothogreport in Executive, Legislature.
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There has been a bit of prognosticating in the comments about what might happen if Stevens were to:

  • Resign prior to the election
  • Win the election and then resign, or
  • Win the election and then be expelled from the Senate.

I’ll walk you through the process for each scenario.

  • If Stevens resigns prior to the election, Mark Begich will surely win his seat.  My guess, however, is that a good 25-35% of the electorate would still vote for Stevens as either a protest, a vote of confidence in Stevens’ innocence, or because they hadn’t heard about his resignation.
  • If Stevens wins the election and then resigns, Sarah Palin doesn’t have the blanket power to appoint his successor.  You may remember the widespread discontent with former Governor Frank Murkowski after he appointed his daughter Lisa to fill his vacant Senate seat.  The state legislature, in the wake of Frank’s nepotistic choice, changed the law to state that while the Governor can appoint an interim Senator or Representative to fill a vacancy, the state must hold a special election for the seat within 90 days.
  • If Stevens wins the election and is then removed by action of the Senate, the same scenario as above would play out: Palin (who would still be governor until January even if McCain wins) would appoint a  temporary replacement, then Alaskans would elect a new Senator within 90 days.


If we do end up holding a special election for Stevens’ seat, Mark Begich would almost certainly remain the Democratic candidate; the Republican replacement for Stevens is less certain.  My personal prediction would be Sean Parnell.  At this point it is extremely statistically unlikely that the McCain/Palin ticket will prevail in the presidential race, and Palin will therefore return as governor.  Some pundits think Palin might select herself as interim senator or declare that she intends to be the Republican candidate in the special election, but I think that would be a very unpopular decision, as it would recall Murkowski’s self-serving behavior.

Parnell seems a much stronger candidate to me, though I must say that I don’t find him a terribly inspiring speaker after hearing him speak about the economy earlier this week (I’ll post about that soon).  

In any case, at this point it’s all guesswork as to who the replacement Republican candidate would be if Stevens wins.  Post-conviction polls by Rasmussen and Research 2000 have Stevens down by 8% and 22% respectively, so perhaps none of this will come into play.  One thing Mark Begich and every other Alaskan know better than any poll result, however, is that you can never count Ted Stevens out.


Posted by roothogreport in Legislature.
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CNN is reporting that Ted Stevens has just been found guilty on all 7 counts of making false statements.  There’s not much news other than that, but really, that’s all the news there’s really going to be.

This is absolutely not what I was expecting.  Now we see whether he’ll be re-elected anyway.

I’ll update with more news as it comes.

UPDATE 12:50 PM: Apparently the convictions wouldn’t bar him from serving if he’s re-elected, but it’s a virtual certainty that the Senate Ethics Committee would begin action to expel him.  Only eleven senators have ever been convicted of crimes in office, and the last time one was kicked out was during the Civil War.

Word on the street is that Stevens might resign this week.

UPDATE 1:31 PM: The Alaska Democratic Party has put out a statement calling for Stevens’ resignation. Can’t exactly call that a surprise.

UPDATE 4:30 PM: Stevens has now put out his own statement saying that he is innocent of all charges and will continue to run for his seat.  So much for that talk about resigning… Uncle Ted isn’t going down without a fight.

State News Recap: Exciting Crimes Edition October 22, 2008

Posted by roothogreport in Executive, Legislature.
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Thought I’d recap some Alaska politics stories that are getting a lot of buzz right now for those of you who don’t hang out in the same corners of the internet(s) as myself.

  • The Republican National Committee has reportedly spent $150,000 on clothes and accessories for Sarah Palin and her family in the last seven weeks.  That’s almost twice what she makes in a year as governor (just over $81,000).  If I had known that being John McCain’s VP candidate would net me that kind of scratch to spend on clothes, I would have put my name in the hat.  I can explain the duties of the vice president better than Sarah can…
  • Ted Stevens’ fate is now in the hands of the jurors.  Here’s my prediction, which isn’t too bold but does disagree with a few political minds I’ve picked on this topic: If he beats the rap, he wins re-election.  If he is convicted of any charge, he loses.  Going out onto a limb a little further, my bet is that even if he is re-elected he won’t run again in six years.  The era of Ted Stevens as the Republican version of the “Lion of the Senate” is coming to a close.
  • Back to Sarah for a minute- she is scheduled to give her deposition in the Troopergate probe on Friday.  You may well be thinking, “Didn’t that whole thing wrap up a week or two ago?”  The answer is yes and no.  The Legislature’s probe is already over, and it found that she abused her power and acted in an ethically irresponsible way, but stopped short of accusing her of breaking specific laws.  The Alaska Personnel Board, at Palin’s request, is operating a second probe which is still ongoing.  Sarah will give her deposition to the APB probe; she declined to participate in the Legislature’s investigation.
  • In case you’re of a mind to believe that Republicans are responsible for all of the scandals in Alaska politics, think again.  John Brown, a Democrat running against incumbent Republican Jay Ramras for State House in District 10, ran into some trouble over the last week.  First, an old conviction for using cocaine surfaced.  This conviction is nearly thirty years old, so while it wasn’t great news for Brown and likely lost him a few votes, it wouldn’t have been a game-changer by itself.  Unfortunately for Brown, a few days later it came out that his campaign manager was making false accusations about Jay Ramras on the website of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, using an anonymous username to disguise his identity.  The cocaine conviction story was thereby resurrected and amplified, with the addition of a story which suggests that Brown’s campaign is in disarray.  At this point, Brown is dead in the water.
That’s all for now.  Enjoy your Wednesday.

Stevens Trial Update: The World Is Turning October 13, 2008

Posted by roothogreport in Uncategorized.
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Ted Stevens’ trial is winding to a close in the District of Columbia, with the defense’s argument turning to Ted’s wife Catherine.  The defense will argue that she oversaw all of the construction on their house and that Ted was too busy to notice who was paying the bills.  The prosecution is looking to bring in records of Catherine’s which prove Ted was aware of the gifts he was receiving.

The defense has been bringing in character witnesses for the last few days, trotting out big names like Daniel Inouye (okay, so he’s not a household name, but he’s been in the Senate since 1963) and Colin Powell.  These witnesses are all saying that Ted is a great guy who would never lie to anyone, but since none of them were privy to Stevens’ personal legal situation before the trial, they can’t speak to anything beyond his character on the Senate floor.  All this is fine by Stevens’ defense, as the point of the high-profile witnesses is less what knowledge they have of the issues facing the court than for them to serve as endorsements of Stevens’ good name.  It’s sort of like political “Wheaties” box ads.

In any event, Stevens’ immediate concern is getting re-elected to his Senate seat, as he’s facing a tough challenge from Mark Begich.  

After the jump, find out why the Washington after Stevens’ trial is going to be different from the one he left, even if he beats the rap and is re-elected once again.