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Embattled Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) campaign stopped just short of declaring victory Wednesday afternoon, releasing a statement declaring it is almost mathematically impossible for Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) to win the Senate race as vote tallies stand.
Stevens was found guilty on seven counts of corruption eight days before he faced the voters, leading most Alaska political observers to conclude the senior Republican in the Senate could not win a seventh term. If Stevens does return to the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised that he will face an ethics investigation and expulsion proceedings even while he appeals his court case.
That scenario looked more likely Wednesday afternoon, as Stevens held a 3,353-vote or about 1.5 percent lead over Begich, according to the tally from the Alaska Division of Elections.
We look forward to the remaining ballots being counted, Stevens campaign manager Mike Tibbles said. It is almost mathematically impossible for Mark Begich to pull ahead if the trends from last night continue. We are confident that we will gain votes given that there is a decidedly Republican advantage to the absentee ballots not yet counted.
There are still at least 40,000 absentee ballots, 9,000 early voting ballots, and an undetermined number of questionable ballots that need to be counted, according to the Anchorage Daily News. That process could take two weeks.
Under Alaska elections law, candidates can request a recount on the states tab if the final winning margin is less than one half of one point.