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McCain Calls for Stevens to Resign

10:18 AM, Oct 28, 2008 • By KEVIN VANCE
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John McCain released a statement this morning calling for Alaska senator Ted Stevens to resign:

Yesterday, Senator Ted Stevens was found guilty of corruption. It is a sign of the health of our democracy that the people continue to hold their representatives to account for improper or illegal conduct, but this verdict is also a sign of the corruption and insider-dealing that has become so pervasive in our nation's capital.

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.

The jury in Stevens's corruption trial convicted him on seven counts yesterday afternoon. The jury decided Stevens was guilty of failing to report gifts of more than $250,000.

The deadline for candidate replacement or withdrawal in Alaska was September 17. If Stevens resigned immediately and/or promised not to serve if he is reelected next week, Alaska voters would have an opportunity to elect a new Republican to the Senate within three months.

Unfortunately, Republicans would have to face an insurmountable hurdle next week in asking Alaskans to vote for a convicted felon. Stevens announced in a statement yesterday evening: "I am innocent. This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial. I ask that Alaskans and my Senate colleagues stand with me as I pursue my rights. I remain a candidate for the United States Senate. I will come home on Wednesday and ask for your vote."

Meanwhile, Nevada senator John Ensign, chairman of the NRSC, said, "Ted Stevens served his constituents for over 40 years and I am disappointed to see his career end in disgrace."Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate who is fighting a tough reelection battle in Kentucky, said Stevens "will be held accountable so the public trust can be restored."

Gov. Palin released a statement this morning expressing confidence that "Senator Stevens will do what is right for the people of Alaska."

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) came out in support of Stevens yesterday. Young, who has had his own challenges with federal investigations, is trailing his Democratic opponent in the polls after winning the GOP primary by about 300 votes.