A defiant Sen. Ted Stevens is returning to Alaska on Wednesday to resume his re-election campaign, despite being convicted of felonies that carry the potential of years in prison.
Stevens, 84, faces a challenge of historic proportions with just one week before the election. Hed be the first convicted U.S. senator ever elected, on appeal or not.
Alaska pollsters and political consultants were skeptical of Stevens chances Monday but not prepared to count out the longest serving Republican in Senate history. Several pointed out that, contrary to most predictions, Stevens surged in the polls after his indictment in late July, coming from far behind to whats essentially a tie with Democratic opponent Mark Begich in most recent polls.
"That had to be people rallying to Ted against these Outside influences attacking their senator. Its possible, extremely unlikely, that with the conviction well get another backlash against this Outside influence," said Anchorage pollster Marc Hellenthal.
The mood at Stevens Anchorage campaign headquarters was one of stunned horror immediately after the conviction came down mid-day Monday. People milled inside while two young volunteers stood in the cold guarding the door. One of them looked close to tears.
ADVERTISEMENT Click here to find out more Hours later, the news had settled in. The guards were gone, the campaign ordered Mooses Tooth pizza for its workers and Stevens backers started talking about whats next.
"I think it will be a battle but were going to throw every ounce of effort into doing so," said political consultant Art Hackney, who is working on the Stevens campaign.