BAD FOR STEVENS, BAD FOR DEMS?

Ted Stevens' indictment is certainly good news for those of us who love honest government. Isaac Chotiner thinks this is bad for the GOP, and it does tarnish their national brand even more. However, it may be problematic for the Democratic Party, as well.

Alaska represented a critical opportunity to switch a Senate seat and increase the Democratic majority in the upper house. But now that Stevens has been indicted, he may not make it into the general election, either because he drops out of the race/is forced out by the party, or because he loses Alaska's Republican primary election at the end of August to back-bench GOP candidate Dave Cuddy. On the Democratic side, Mark Begich, the popular Mayor of Anchorage, is running a strong campaign and could still win a race against Cuddy. But given the GOP tilt of Alaskan politics, Begich would much rather run against Stevens and his corruption baggage than a reform-minded Republican. The scenario is similar to the 2006 results in California's 51st District, where ubercorrupt Rep. Duke Cunningham dropped out, allowing former GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray beat out the Democratic challenger. It will be interesting to track the public statements of Stevens and the rest of this group in the coming weeks.

Update: Vic Vickers has jumped in the race for the GOP nomination. While having lots of money and an anti-corruption message could help him, just moving back to the state recently and being somewhat nuts could hurt. Does it split the primary ticket and let Ted Stevens win the nomination  (assuming he doesn't step down)? I doubt it, but it's too soon to tell.

--Tim Fernholz

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