Sen. Ted Stevens' election defeat marks the end of an era in which he held a commanding place in Alaska politics while wielding power on some of the most influential committees in Congress.
It also moves Senate Democrats within two seats of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority and gives President-elect Barack Obama a stronger hand when he assumes office on Jan. 20.
On the day the longest-serving Republican in Senate history turned 85, he was ousted by Alaska voters troubled by his conviction on federal felony charges and eager for a new direction in Washington, where Stevens served since Lyndon B. Johnson was president.
Alaska voters "wanted to see change," said Democrat Mark Begich, who claimed a narrow victory Tuesday after a tally of remaining ballots showed him holding a 3,724-vote edge.
"Alaska has been in the midst of a generational shift — you could see it," said Begich, the Anchorage mayor.
Courtesy of historian Carl Whitmarsh, we have more on the Alaskan Senator-elect:
[Begich] is the son of the late US Rep. Nicholas Begich, who was killed in a plane crash while campaigning for re-election in October 1972 with then-House Whip Hale Boggs of Louisiana (father of ABC's Cokie Roberts and lobbyist Tommy Boggs), whose wife Lindy succeeded him in Congress and served New Orleans for some 26 years. The elder Begich and Boggs were presumed killed when their plane disappeared in the mountains of Alaska and they were declared dead in December after no wreckage or bodies could be found. Mark Begich was 8 years old at the time of his father's death.
So a recount in Minnesota and a runoff in Georgia are the last remaining Republican roadblocks to a super-majority. The links detail the circumstances; Al Franken needs rejected absentee ballots examined for various technicalities (including undervotes that the state's optical scanners may have missed) to overcome Norm Coleman's 200+ vote lead, while Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin call up Libertarians and call on the heavy hitters (John McCain, Bill Clinton, Al Gore) to campaign for them.
A win in either race matches my prediction *buffs manicure*, and I'll go a little farther out on the limb and say that Franken pulls off the upset but Chambliss beats back the challenge, which would perfectly align with my October 28 prognostication.