“Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich is inching closer to defeating Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens a full 13 days after Election Day. The remaining 24,000 absentee and questioned ballots will be counted Tuesday, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
“As of Friday, Begich had a 1,022 vote lead over the embattled Republican senator, who was convicted in October on seven felony counts of lying on his Senate disclosure forms to conceal gifts. “Begich appears poised to maintain his lead because ballots from the most pro-Stevens regions of the state have already been counted. However, Begich’s campaign told the Anchorage Daily News that they are already preparing for a recount in December.
“In Minnesota, a recount board consisting of Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, two county judges, and two state Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty will decide the race between GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken, which Coleman leads with just over 200 votes out of nearly 3 million cast.
“Franken will be in Washington this week to meet with Senate Democratic leaders to discuss the recount, but he will not attend freshmen orientation. Attending would be “presumptuous,” a Franken campaign spokeswoman told the Star Tribune. The recount begins Wednesday and should be decided by Dec. 19, although court challenges are possible.
“Outside money and resources are pouring in to Georgia where GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin will face off in a Dec. 2 run-off election. Sen. John McCain campaigned for Chambliss last week and former President Bill Clinton is headed to Georgia Wednesday for Martin. Senate Democrats already have 57 seats heading in to the next Congress, but a Martin victory—combined with a potential Stevens defeat—could have the party teetering near a 60-seat filibuster-proof Senate.
“The fate of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, could potentially alter the balance. Lieberman’s Senate Democratic colleagues, many of which are still chafing at his full-throated support of McCain in the presidential race, will cast secret ballots Tuesday to determine whether Lieberman gets to remain atop the Homeland Security Committee. If Lieberman is stripped of his gavel, it’s unclear he would continue to caucus with the party.”
It is essential that the GOP pick up the three states in question. If Sen. Ted Stevens wins in Alaska he should immediately step down and allow another Republican to serve his term. I’d like to see Governor Sarah Palin appoint a strong principled conservative to replace Stevens. I would also like to see Sen. Joe Lieberman caucus with the GOP. There are so many liberal Republicans in the Senate that even now the Democrats may be able to muster filibuster proof majorities on many of the likely brewing battles.