Begich ahead by 3 votes in Alaska
Nick Cargo and David Edwards
Published: Wednesday November 12, 2008

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Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Democratic opponent Mark Begich are neck-and-neck for Stevens' seat as Alaska continues counting absentee and early ballots not counted on Election Day.

On November 4, Stevens led by about 3,000 votes against Begich, the current mayor of Anchorage. The state's Division of Elections, reports the Anchorage Daily News, has counted about 43,000 absentee ballots on Wednesday, with 35,000 more expected in the next week. As of Wednesday evening, Begich was in the lead by three votes, with 125,019 against Stevens' 125,016.

Whether 84-year-old Stevens keeps his seat for long if he prevails is unclear. On October 27, he was convicted of seven federal felony counts for false statements made on financial disclosure forms between 1999 and 2006 to conceal over $250,000 worth of gifts and services from Alaska oil services contractor VECO, including a remodel of one of his houses. Regardless of the appeals process, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on November 1, Stevens will face an ethics investigation followed by his ejection from the Senate, where he has served since 1968.

"I'd be interested to know who the Republican Party leadership is rooting for," the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night, citing a "taint of corruption."

"I don't think they want Ted Stevens to come back," he said. "I think they want a clean break with the last eight years...and they would almost rather--I don't say they would rather--but I think it is a debate whether they want Senator Stevens back or not."

The following video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast November 12, 2008.

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