Palin: Begich Should Resign

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin thinks Senator Mark Begich, who narrowly defeated incumbent Ted Stevens last November shortly after the latter was convicted on corruption charges, should step down and agree to a rematch now that the Justice Department has decided to drop the case against Stevens.

Palin’s call came after a reporter at the Fairbanks News Miner emailed her a copy of a statement by Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich calling for Begich to step down.

Asked for her response, Palin simply wrote back: “I absolutely agree.”

When the reporter wrote back to confirm that Palin meant she’d like to see Begich resign in order to hold a special election, the governor responded: “Yes.”

In an email to POLITICO, Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton confirmed the governor’s position. “She absolutely agrees that there should be a special election,” Stapleton wrote. “Stepping down to hold the special election would be the right thing to do.”

In the statement Palin was provided, Ruedrich said that “the only reason Mark Begich won the election in November is because a few thousand Alaskans thought that Sen. Ted Stevens was guilty of seven felonies.”  “A special election will allow Alaskans to have a real, non-biased, credible process where the most qualified person could win, without the manipulation of the Department of Justice,” he added.

It’s not just the voters who thought Stevens was guilty of seven felonies but an Alaska jury.  The Attorney General dropped the case against Stevens prior to sentencing because of prosecutorial misconduct, not because of evidence exonerating Stevens.

Beyond that, it’s not uncommon for narrow elections to be decided based on dubious knowledge on the part of the voters.  Candidates are often smeared with unfounded charges by their opponents and occasionally even charged with actual crimes for which they are subsequently exonerated.  Them’s unfortunately the breaks.  There are no do-overs.

Needless to say, I agree with Jon Henke that sticking up for Ted Stevens is not a plank I’d like to see the Republican Party run on.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. sam says:

    If I may quote John Cole on this:

    Gary Condit called. He said to SUCK. ON. THIS.

  2. just me says:

    This is stupid. Begich may have won because the prosecution and conviction came at a bad time for Stevens and good time for the democrats, but Begich didn’t do anything other than run against the man.

    Alaskans would do better to develop a strong candidate to run against Begich in the next election, but calling for his resignation is stupid. Attack him for dumb, party line things he might do in office, but asking him to quit and have a do over is ridiculous.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    James it appears the prosecutorial misconduct had to do with evidence. Which may have effected the preception of guilt or innocents by the jury. It is after the fact, and no one has the power to force the newly elected Senator to resign. Some people have no honor. Others do not even understand the concept.

  4. Franklin says:

    Mr. Ragshaft,

    First off, nobody has learned anything new about Stevens’ guilt or innocence. But even so, do you really think it’s efficient to hold another election every time we learn something new about the winner or loser?

    Besides, you’re asking for politicians to be honorable, which is just a tad unrealistic.

    -Franklin

  5. Bithead says:

    (Shrug)
    Say what you will about Stevens, I’ll likley agree with you. Still….It’s within the law, though. By comparison, let’s say the charges against Blago are dropped. Does anyone suppose he wouldn’t be running again? He’d stand a fair chance of winning, too.

  6. Steve Plunk says:

    Franklin is right. We shouldn’t expect honor among thieves. The honorable thing to do is resign and have that special election.

  7. Davebo says:

    Anything that keeps Palin in the headlines is good to me!

  8. Billy says:

    The honorable thing to do is resign and have that special election.

    Agreed. Just like George W. Bush did when the validity of his election was thrown into serious doubt. And like Norm Coleman did (the first time), when he was only elected because his opponent died.

  9. Rick Almeida says:

    [L]et’s say the charges against Blago are dropped. Does anyone suppose he wouldn’t be running again?

    Nobody has argued that Stevens can’t or shouldn’t run again.

  10. Franklin says:

    Don Young has just had an excellent idea. If Palin wants Stevens back in government, how about as governor of that great state? After all, I think we can think of a few things that Palin should probably resign over.

  11. Bithead says:

    Nobody has argued that Stevens can’t or shouldn’t run again.

    True enough, at least for this thread, Rick, but it’s also beside the point.

    Point I’m making has to do with the conditions surrounding the election, and the strict legal interpretation… his actualy guilt or innocence to one side. Think; can you imagine Stevens having lost that race absent the case, that’s now been dropped? If the case has been dropped, he’s legally innocent, true? I daresay that thereby, a case could be made that the issue on which he was voted out is legally speaking no longer legit. And certainly, one could make the case that the timing of the procecution was at least partially motivated by political gain.

    How that would be applied after the fact, I’ve no idea.

  12. If anyone wanted proof that the Republican party is still the same old party they’ve been the last 10 years, here you go.

    All the tea parties and other stuff about a new belief in limited government and principled leadership is just poltical theater.

  13. hcantrall says:

    There is no difference in behavior of either party. The party with power is arrogant and have completely forgotten how they behaved before they got there and the people out of power are petty, irrational, and bitter. It’s always the same.

  14. Steve Plunk says:

    Billy, You aren’t still complaining about the 2000 election are you? Remember the news agencies who went and did a forensic recount and came up with Bush winning in all scenarios? And I don’t recall Coleman assassinating his opponent.

    Stormy, Please explain how this is opposed to limited government or principled leadership? Appealing to a person’s sense of honor and calling for a new election seems okay to me. Nobody is calling for legislation forcing such an election.

  15. Billy says:

    Remember the news agencies who went and did a forensic recount and came up with Bush winning in all scenarios? And I don’t recall Coleman assassinating his opponent.

    I was more referring to the butterfly ballot scenario, or regretful Nader voters, which would be more analogous to the present scenario.

    And how did Begich do anything approaching the realm of being responsible for this, again?

  16. andrew says:

    This story pretty much sums up the insanity of the age we live in. There’s finally actual proof of justice being politicized when Bush was President and it turns out to be a Democratic Party hit on a Republican.

  17. Stormy, Please explain how this is opposed to limited government or principled leadership? Appealing to a person’s sense of honor and calling for a new election seems okay to me. Nobody is calling for legislation forcing such an election.

    1. Stevens case is being dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct. That doesn’t mean that he’s innocent of the charges against him.

    2. Even if what Stevens did was legal, accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from people with business before the Senate is not behavior we should tolerate in our public officials.

    3. Even if we put that aside, anyone who claims to believe in limited government while simultaneously pining for the King of Government Waste’s return to the Senate is insulting my intelligence.

  18. Eric says:

    This story pretty much sums up the insanity of the age we live in. There’s finally actual proof of justice being politicized when Bush was President and it turns out to be a Democratic Party hit on a Republican.

    I’m sorry, but this makes no sense, Stormy. How is it that this is a “Democratic Party hit?” I seem to recall the Bush DOJ being in charge for the last 8 years.

    And as far as “finally proof” of justice “being politicized,” apparently you’ve forgotten about that whole Siegleman affair, or those “military tribunals” instituted by the Bush Admin. How is it that all that turmoil in the Bush DOJ regarding fired AGs, Monica Goodling et al is a yawner to you, but suddenly the Stevens thing is whole cause for outrage–and fake outrage at that?

  19. Steve Plunk says:

    Stormy,

    I see what you are saying but we are innocent until proven guilty. Steven’s may not deserve to return to the senate but a fair election should determine that. Personally I wouldn’t have voted for him even without the prosecution but I’m not Alaskan. I’m not insulting anyone intelligence but advocating for a fair election contest. It’s one of the foundations of a representative democracy.

  20. andrew says:

    “I’m sorry, but this makes no sense, Stormy. How is it that this is a “Democratic Party hit?” I seem to recall the Bush DOJ being in charge for the last 8 years.”

    I often come across times like this when I’m not sure if the Leftist I”m talking to is lying or just dumb.

    “And as far as “finally proof” of justice “being politicized,” apparently you’ve forgotten about that whole Siegleman affair, or those “military tribunals” instituted by the Bush Admin. How is it that all that turmoil in the Bush DOJ regarding fired AGs, Monica Goodling et al is a yawner to you, but suddenly the Stevens thing is whole cause for outrage–and fake outrage at that?”

    The difference is that this is a real scandal. And as for fake outrage look in the mirror. Here’s a case of actual gross violations of justice (no doubt about it) and you’re not outraged in the least.

  21. Innocent until proven guilty only applies to how you are treated by the government. We, as private citizens, are free to think he’s a crook and to not want to associate with him.

    Likewise, no one is suggesting he shouldn’t be allowed to run in the next election. However, whether we should want him to win again is another question entirely. Any Republican who wants Ted Stevens back is not a serious supporter of limited government.

  22. This story pretty much sums up the insanity of the age we live in. There’s finally actual proof of justice being politicized when Bush was President and it turns out to be a Democratic Party hit on a Republican.

    I’m sorry, but this makes no sense, Stormy. How is it that this is a “Democratic Party hit?” I seem to recall the Bush DOJ being in charge for the last 8 years.

    Uh, I didn’t say that, someone named andrew did…

    Please, I get in enough problems for things I actually say. ;>

  23. Bithead says:

    And how did Begich do anything approaching the realm of being responsible for this, again?

    Begich ran both implicitly and overtly on the idea that Stevens was up on charges. Since the charges were dropped, it cuts the legs out of Begich’s platform.

    As I say, you can say what you will on Stevens, I’ll likely agree. But if we’re to stick to the letter and not the intent, as Democrats so often do..(The Iowa marriage ruling today, as an example) I suggest a case can in fact be made.

  24. Bithead says:

    I’m sorry, but this makes no sense, Stormy. How is it that this is a “Democratic Party hit?” I seem to recall the Bush DOJ being in charge for the last 8 years.

    So, when the administration changes, the political loyalties of the lower and mid level DOJ employees also changes?

    Sorry, no sale.

  25. Floyd says:

    Well at least there is some reason to think that the votes were properly counted,unlike Ohio, Illinois, or Minnesota. The people probably voted for Begich in spite of any underhanded tactics.
    He should stay until his term is up, then run again, if elections are still allowed at that time.

  26. Matt says:

    Say what you will about Stevens, I’ll likley agree with you. Still….It’s within the law, though. By comparison, let’s say the charges against Blago are dropped. Does anyone suppose he wouldn’t be running again? He’d stand a fair chance of winning, too.

    I live in Illinois and I would bet the farm that Blago wouldn’t have a chance..

  27. Bithead says:

    Matt, I have to tell you that I wouldn’t be quite so sure were I you. A look at history of heavily democrat districts shows that despite the criminal implications surrounding people like William Jefferson, Chris Dodd, any Frank, Ted Kennedy, any number of people in the Chicago area, Nancy Pelosi etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam, They keep getting reelected. So this is supposed to change, with Blagojevich? sorry, I don’t see it, myself.

    From the opposite side of the coin… As to Ted Stevens being reelected under the same conditions, that seems an open question to me. Certainly, with the charges hanging over his head the probably wouldn’t have been re-elected. But with those charges having been removed? Who knows?