Reid Says Stevens Cannot Serve
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was forced into the middle of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) re-election bid late Saturday night after a senior Senate Democrat endorsed Stevens and called on voters to disregard his seven-count felony conviction. In a bluntly worded release from his office, Reid warned that Stevens would not only face an ethics investigation but also expulsion proceedings regardless of his efforts to appeal the convictions. Reids decision to jump into the Alaska Senate race with both feet marks the first time a leading national Democrat has explicitly warned that Stevens ouster from the Senate would be sought. GOP leaders including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) have already called for him to step down or face expulsion. Reid also rebuffed comments made by Sen. Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), one of the chambers senior Democrats who had previously endorsed Stevens, and who has reaffirmed that sentiment since his conviction last month. In a statement released by the Stevens campaign, Inouye argues that his longtime friend will be seated as a Member of the Senate next year if re-elected and that he believes the felony convictions will be overturned. As the Senate has done in every other instance in its long 220-year history, I am absolutely confident that Ted Stevens will be sworn into the Senate while he appeals this unjust verdict, I am certain that this decision in Washington, D.C., will be overturned on appeal, Inouye said. But Reid rejected that reading of Senate history and chastised Stevens for using his friend in a political campaign. While I respect the opinion of Senator Daniel Inouye, the reality is that a convicted felon is not going to be able to serve in the United States Senate. And as precedent shows us, Senator Stevens will face an ethics committee investigation and expulsion, regardless of his appeals process, Reid said. This is not a partisan issue and it is unfortunate that Senator Stevens has used his long time friendship with Senator Inouye for partisan political gain, he added. Stevens is locked in a tight race with Democratic Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.