Stevens’ re-election won’t help the GOP

Republicans looking for a reversal of their rapidly declining fortunes won’t get much comfort from the news out of Washington, D.C., Monday.

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens — a fixture on Capitol Hill for 40 years and leader of the GOP — was convicted of seven felonies, including accepting costly home renovations from an oil company
executive, then lying about it.

What’s more, rather than stepping aside to let some other Republican run for his seat, as he could have done this summer when he was indicted, Stevens is asking Alaska voters to re-elect him to the Senate.

He was already facing an uphill battle against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, and his conviction makes re-election more difficult. But for longtime apparatchiks like Stevens, it’s all about his fortunes, not his nation’s or even his party’s.

That’s just what Congress and the GOP do not need to restore public confidence — a convicted felon on the Senate floor.

Republicans gained partial control of Congress during Bill Clinton’s first term by promising to be the party of less government, while holding to more ethical standards.

It hasn’t been that way recently. Republicans and Democrats alike have cut deals with lobbyists, become entangled in sex scandals, and helped set records for pork-barrel spending.

Additionally, a substantial part of the public’s anger toward the Bush administration is the way its members have cozied up to people in industry, especially the energy industry.

Ted Stevens — prime architect of earmarks for the infamous Bridge to Nowhere and now convicted of taking illegal gifts from the oil industry — is the poster boy for all that’s wrong with the Republican Party these days.

The last thing citizens of Alaska should do — especially those who want to see a resurgence in GOP fortunes — is send him back to Washington.


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