Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) on Tuesday condemned Sen. Ted Stevens (R., Alaska) and called for the convicted senator to resign. "It is clear that Senator Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will be spurred by these events to redouble their efforts to end this kind of corruption once and for all," he said in a statement. Stevens has been defiant both during the indictment process and after the court ruling that found he had lied about $250,000 in gifts he received, mostly for his home in Alaska. Following his conviction, Stevens said "I'm innocent," and asked that Alaska voters "stand" with him to re-elect him to his seat. He has served in the Senate since 1968. CNBC reported that Gov. Sarah Palin (R., Alaska), McCain's running mate, had repeated McCain's call in an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday and issued a similar response through the governor's office on Monday. She had remained mum on the subject until Monday evening. Fort his part, Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) also called for Stevens' resignation Tuesday, saying: "Yesterday's ruling wasn't just a verdict on Senator Stevens -- but on the broken politics that has infected Washington for decades. It's time to put an end to the corruption and influence-peddling, restore openness and accountability, and finally put government back in the hands of the people it serves. Senator Stevens should step down."
The conviction of Stevens bolsters the bid of his opponent, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, in what has been a tight race. "This past year has been a difficult time for Alaskans, but our people are strong and resilient and I believe that we will be able to move forward together to address the critical challenges that face Alaska," Begich said in a statement. Should Stevens lose his re-election bid, Senate Democrats may be able to reach an important number: 60. That's the number of votes needed to override the minority and overcome a filibuster of Republicans in the Senate. This would give Democrats an easy road to pass legislation in a House controlled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and the senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.). CQ Politics had recently predicted 56 seats going to the Democrats. They had Stevens' seat as leaning democratic, but because he's only the fifth sitting Senator ever convicted of a felony, he becomes much more likely a victim of defeat.