It appears clear that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) has won his re-election bid. While I congratulate him on his victory, he now needs to step aside. His conviction and the continuing scandal around it make him a drag on the revitalization of the GOP.
Unfortunately, what would happen if Stevens does resign is not clear:
In most states, the governor can appoint a senator to finish out an unexpired term, but in 2004, Alaskans passed a ballot initiative that bars the governor from naming interim senators because many were angered over Gov. Murkowski’s appointment of his daughter to the Senate in 2002.
But some legal scholars say that the Alaska initiative would contradict the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which grants state legislators the power to give governors their choice of senators in the case of resignation or expulsion.
The amendment says: “Provided, that the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”
If the courts rule that the initiative does indeed contradict the constitution, Gov. Palin could appoint an interim senator until a special election was held, which, according the Alaskan constitution, must take place within 60 to 90 days of the resignation or expulsion.
Regardless of the difficulty of replacing him, Stevens is a damaging liability to a party that needs to shake off the scandals of the past. He’s gotta go.