Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stevens Concedes, Minnesota Recount Begins

Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who was convicted of seven felony counts in October, has conceded his Senate race to Democrat Mark Begich and will not ask for a recount.

“Given the number of ballots that remain to be counted, it is apparent the election has been decided and Mayor Begich has been elected,” Stevens said. “I wish Mayor Begich and his family well. My staff and I stand willing to help him prepare for his new position.”

Stevens turned 85 this week and is the longest-serving Republican in Senate history.

With this victory, Democrats have now picked up seven Senate seats in 2008, with the results of races in Minnesota and Georgia still to be decided.

Meanwhile, the statewide vote recount in Minnesota's incredibly close Senate race between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken began on Wednesday. The recount was mandated by state law because the votes cast for Coleman and Franken differed by less than one-half of 1 percent, with only 215 votes separating them out of almost 3 million ballots cast.

As of 11 p.m. Wednesday night, the Minnesota Secretary of State's office reported that, with 23 percent of precincts recounted, Coleman was leading Franken 195,638 to 180,923, or 43 percent to 40 percent.

While this shows Franken behind, the current count includes only a tiny part of Ramsey County, where St. Paul is located and where Franken clobbered Coleman on election day.

All of the 2.9 million ballots are being counted by hand and the process may extend all the way to December 5th, when a state board convenes to certify the results.