ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, narrowly lost his re-election bid Tuesday, marking the downfall of a pillar of the U.S. Senate and Alaska icon who apparently could not survive his conviction on federal corruption charges.
His defeat to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich moves Senate Democrats closer to the 60-vote majority needed to end a delaying tactic known as a filibuster used to obstruct passage of legislation.
Stevens' ouster on his 85th birthday marks an abrupt realignment in Alaska politics and will alter the power structure in the Senate, where he has served since the days of the President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration while holding seats on some of the most influential committees in Congress.
The crotchety octogenarian occupies an outsized place in Alaska history. His involvement in politics dates to the days before Alaska statehood, and he is esteemed for his ability to secure billions of dollars in federal aid for transportation and military projects in the state. The Anchorage airport bears his name; in Alaska, it's simply "Uncle Ted."
Tuesday's tally of just over 24,000 absentee and other ballots gave Begich 146,286, or 47.56 percent, to 143,912, or 46.76 percent, for Stevens.
A recount is possible.