As the late ballots continued to come in, Mark Begich increased his marginal lead over Ted Stevens, the incumbent Senator (AK-R). One November 19, the day after his birthday, Stevens conceded defeat.
Mark Blood of the Associated Press, November 19, 2008:
In an eight-sentence statement, the longest serving Republican in Senate history said not enough ballots remain uncounted for him to catch Democrat Mark Begich, who holds a 3,724-vote lead out of about 315,000 ballots cast.
The two term Anchorage mayor, Mark Begich, considered his victory a signal of a shift in political consciousness in Alaska, but stressed that he was not a typical Democrat.
“Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a different Democrat — I’m from Alaska,” he said. Along with firearm rights and drilling, “Alaskans are very libertarian in issues where the government shouldn’t interfere in their personal lives.”
Stevens’s lost brings the Democrats one seat closer to a filibuster-proof Senate. There are two more senatorial contests in the states of Georgia and Minnesota, and the Democrats are two shy of 60 seats. There are mixed sentiments about Stevens’s lost in Washington D.C. Some Senators expressed their reverence and respect for the man who has served longer than any other in the Republican Party, but many did not show up for his last Senate speech.
Laurie Kellman of the Associated Press, November 20, 2008:
Perhaps a quarter of the Senate filed into the chamber to hear the speech, with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell turning his chair all the way around to face Stevens. Those gathered in the galleries and on the Senate floor gave the outgoing senator a standing ovation, a violation of Senate custom. But no one objected.
In Minnesota, The incumbent senator Norm Coleman, (R) leads Democratic rival Al Franken by 215 votes with a recount underway as of November 19.
In Georgia, The incumbent senator Saxby Chambliss (R) and Jim Martin (D) are already campaigning the their runoff vote on December 2, 2008.