Thursday, November 13, 2008

Begich Ahead

It's been a week since we updated the Senate races, and things have only gotten more interesting. Alaska has not finished it's initial count, but roughly 40,000 ballots remaining to count Begich has gone from a deficit of several thousand votes to a slim lead of 814, largely from early and provisional ballots which have leaned heavily for Begich. It's not sure how the rest of the votes may go, though signs are favorable to Begich:

Republican Party of Alaska Chairman Randy Ruedrich wasn't giving up hope for Stevens, saying Begich's advantage could lessen as the state finishes counting the early votes.

He said remaining mail-in absentee votes "should be much more favorable to Republicans" than the ones counted so far.

But state Democratic Party spokeswoman Bethany Lesser said Begich workers are cautiously optimistic the lead would hold. She noted that the election district based in Nome, which covers Northern and Western Alaska, has not counted any of its absentee ballots yet. Begich beat Stevens in that area on Election Day, just as he did throughout Bush Alaska, a traditional Stevens stronghold that relies on federal appropriations.

The remaining ballots won't be counted until next Tuesday or Wednesday, but things look good.

No resolution is imminent for the Coleman/Franken race, where the recount is expected to stretch into December and even once it's complete the outcome may not be certain:

he freshly appointed state Canvassing Board will be charged with certifying vote totals Tuesday and, more important, settling differences over disputed ballots once local officials complete their recount.

The resolution of those disputed ballots may decide the winner of the closest Senate contest in the country, although a court challenge may still be in the offing.

Also, the Republicans are bringing out the heavy hitters in the Martin-Chambliss race:

Martin and Chambliss are locked in a tight Dec. 2 runoff that has attracted national attention. Democrats now control 57 Senate seats, with only unresolved contests in Georgia, Minnesota and Alaska standing in the path of a Democratic supermajority.

Martin on Wednesday praised McCain, but criticized Chambliss for bringing in Republican top guns to boost his chances.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will come to Georgia for Chambliss on Sunday.

“John McCain is a great American,” Martin said at a news conference at the state Capitol. “And he served his country with distinction. All Georgians know that.”

But, Martin said, Georgia voters need a senator who will work with President-elect Barack Obama, not fight him.

“You can bring in all the political leaders of the past, like Saxby Chambliss is to shore up his position, but truthfully, it’s the old politics. We’re moving forward, and are taking our message to voters,” Martin said.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, meanwhile, has purchased a week’s worth of ads on metro Atlanta television stations for Martin.

The possibility of a filibuster proof majority hangs in the balance, so in case you are feeling the post-election blues don't worry...there's quite a bit of drama still left.

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