Stevens' pursuit of a seventh term was damaged by his conviction in federal court—just days before the election—for lying on Senate disclosure forms to conceal more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations from an oil field services company.
He was trying to become the first convicted felon to win election to the Senate. A survey of people leaving polling places conducted for The Associated Press and television networks found that two of three voters considered Stevens' trial a factor in their decision. Begich voters cited it as an issue more often.
It would be the nice thing to say of Stevens that it's been nice knowing him (he was reportedly a homeless man living on the land upon which the Senate was built back in 1483; of course that's not true, I just read it on that series of tubes Stevens was so concerned about).
But really, it hasn't been nice knowing him. He represents with almost focus-group intensity virtually everything that is wrong with American politics. He's a whining crybaby, a special-interest towel boy who was, like his equally repellent former colleague Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.), slowly mailing the entire federal budget back to his home state in a never-ending series of priority packages large and small. Stevens' loss is the nation's gain.
As reason's Jacob Sullum has written:
From 2004 to 2008, Taxpayers for Common Sense reports, Stevens had a hand in 891 Alaska-benefiting earmarks worth $3.2 billion. That works out to about $4,800 per Alaskan, 18 times the national average. And earmarks represent just a fraction of federal spending in Alaska, which totaled $9 billion in 2006 alone….
Although Alaskans are the biggest beneficiaries of congressional largess [in 2005, they pulled in a whopping $1.84 for every buck they sent to the feds], Stevens, who lobbied for statehood in the 1950s, still sees them as victims of a high-handed federal government. During his 2005 tantrum over Tom Coburn's proposal to move transportation money from Alaska to hurricane-stricken Louisiana (a proposal the Senate overwhelmingly rejected), Stevens repeatedly invoked his state's "sovereign" and "equal" status, seemingly worried that his colleagues were disrespecting Alaska behind his back. His attitude was reminiscent of a beggar who not only demands a handout but insists that everyone pretend the money was his all along.