Stevens Asking Colleagues to Hold Off Expulsion Talk

Posted November 13, 2008 at 1:31pm

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is reportedly calling his Republican colleagues in the hope of shoring up support before an expected vote Tuesday on whether to expel him from the Conference because of his seven felony convictions.

Although it was unclear how many lawmakers Stevens has reached out to, GOP aides said he has been making calls urging his colleagues to withhold judgement until the appeals process is exhausted. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has proposed expelling him from the Conference and stripping him of his committee assignments, and a vote on that proposal could occur Tuesday.

Even if Stevens survives through next week, he is widely expected to be eventually expelled from the Senate, with leaders from both parties saying proceedings to remove him would take place at an undetermined time.

Rank-and-file Republicans have also begun to turn their backs on Stevens, the longest-serving member of the GOP. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), during an interview on MSNBC Thursday afternoon, echoed a statement he made Wednesday in which he said he would vote for any motion to remove Stevens.

“Ultimately, I don’t think Sen. Stevens will continue to serve,” Chambliss said.

He called the matter “unfortunate” but said if Stevens wins his pending re-election bid, “certainly he’s going to be expelled.”

Others, like Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), continued to hold out hope that Stevens, who’s re-election contest against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) remains unresolved, will lose his election and spare the party the heartache.

“I’m hopeful that the election will resolve this, perhaps, and we won’t have to deal with it,” Martinez said.

In Alaska, a recount would occur if either Stevens or Begich wins by less than one half of one percent. Above that level, a candidate can pay for a recount – and given Stevens’ reputation for being tenacious, Republicans acknowledged he could very well do so.

Although extremely unlikely, that could, in theory, cause another issue for the Senate and Alaska, at least temporarily. According to GOP aides, Senate rules require members to have their election certified by state officials before being seated. So, if a recount occurred and dragged on until Jan. 6 when the Senate is expected to reconvene, neither Stevens nor Begich would be seated, leaving Alaska with only one Senator until the election was resolved.