Corruption

What If Ted Stevens Threatens Not to Resign?

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The Alaska Republican Party is urging voters to re-elect a convicted felon to the U.S. Senate. If Ted Stevens, who was found guilty on Monday of filing false Senate financial disclosure forms, is defeated in next week's election, he will be replaced by his Democratic opponent, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. But if he wins and then resigns, there will be a special election that a Republican might win.

Here's another scenario: Stevens is re-elected and refuses to resign, forcing his colleagues to vote on whether to expel him. They can muster only 66 votes, one shy of the two-thirds majority required. Stevens continues to serve in the Senate while serving his prison term, which he completes in 2011 or so, and is re-elected in 2014, when he turns 90. I'm no Stevens fan, but for sheer entertainment value this could be the best thing to come out of this year's election. (For similar reasons, I was rooting for Jim Traficant, who was expelled from the House in 2002 by a vote of 420 to 1.)

Speaking of pork-pulling nonagenarian senators, Democratic leaders in the Senate reportedly are planning to ditch Robert Byrd as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. According to The New York Times, they have "reluctantly and sorrowfully" concluded that Byrd, who has represented West Virginia in the Senate since 1959, "is not up to the immense challenges he would face in that job." They are therefore bringing in some new blood: 84-year-old Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii.