Tales from the Trail

Stevens’ conviction likely makes re-election harder

WASHINGTON – Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is an icon in Alaska where he has provided plenty of federal dollars and even has the airport in Anchorage named after him. But that might not enough to help the 84-year-old senator — the longest-serving Senate Republican in U.S. history – to win re-election next week.

“Just because they name the airport after you, doesn’t mean they won’t throw you out of office,” said Nathan Gonzales of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.

Stevens, who was found guilty on all seven counts of lying on Senate disclosure forms to hide more than $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from the head of Alaska oil services company VECO Corp., already had been facing a tough race against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich in an political environment that has favored Democrats.

“Stevens was already in a very competitive race, and this makes it more difficult,” Gonzales said. “Still, I wouldn’t count Stevens out because he is an icon in the state.”

Republicans have had an uphill battle this year trying to protect some 23 of their Senate seats that are up this election cycle while Democrats only have 12 to defend. Democrats are tipped to win at least a few seats held by Republicans including in Virginia and New Mexico.

Michelle Obama brings Republican date to the debate

rtr20fdd.jpgIt’s no surprise that Michelle Obama will be rooting for her husband, Barack Obama, when the Democratic presidential candidate squares off against Republican John McCain in their final debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York tonight.

What is a little startling, however, is that sitting right next to her will be Lilibet Hagel, the wife of Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel.

The Obama campaign said Lilibet Hagel, a Republican who has endorsed the Democratic presidential candidate, will attend the debate as Michelle Obama’s “special guest.”

Democrats see post-election pressure to produce

rtr20gfs.jpgWASHINGTON – Democrats seem well positioned to increase their control of the U.S. Congress and win the White House in the November elections. But with such success will come pressure.  

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York says his victorious party would have to quickly resolve concerns of the American people — ranging from bringing down record gas prices and expanding health care to resolving the housing crisis and withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

“If we get in 2009 and we don’t solve people’s problems, they will kick us out as quickly as they put us in,” Schumer, head of the Senate Democratic campaign committee, told reporters on Wednesday.

Obama, Clinton deadlocked in US Senate, 13-13

WASHINGTON – Among those who serve with them in the U.S. Senate — an institution often referred to as “the world’s most deliberative body” — endorsements for White House rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are dead even.

rtr1xvi9.jpgThirteen of their fellow Democratic senators back Obama, the first-term lawmaker from Illinois, while 13 support Clinton, the second-term lawmaker from New York.

Twenty-one other Democratic senators are uncommitted in the race for their party’s 2008 presidential nomination.