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Stevens faces 6 seeking U.S. Senate seat for Alaska
Anchorage Daily News


August 24, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Ted Stevens, under indictment and running for his political life, seemed in a solemn mood. Justice Department prosecutors had just made public a series of new claims against him as he campaigns for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

"History takes care of itself," Stevens said in an interview last week, as he reflected on what all this could mean for his legacy. "Others will judge what I've done and what I may have done they don't like.

"I like to read history, but it's not my thing to write it. I don't keep diaries, I don't do all that. That's probably one of my problems now, that I don't keep diaries," Stevens said.

Stevens, the 84-year-old U.S. senator who has shaped modern Alaska history more than anyone else, faces voters on Tuesday for the first time since his indictment on federal felony charges of failing to disclose more than $250,000 in gifts.

Stevens has six challengers in Tuesday's Republican primary, including:

-- Dave Cuddy, former state legislator, scion of a prominent local banking family, former president of First National Bank of Anchorage, and a land developer who has a small Texas B-movie film studio.

-- Vic Vickers, a lawyer and former bank regulator who has a Florida-based maritime company.

-- Rick Sikma of North Pole, a pastor who is taking a leave of absence to run on an ethics platform.

-- Michael Corey, an Anchorage attorney.

-- Jerry Heikes, a Palmer carpenter/drywall worker.

-- Rich Wanda of Anchorage, who did not respond to a Daily News request for information and does not appear to have a campaign Web site.

Polls indicate Stevens, who says he is innocent, goes into Tuesday's election maintaining heavy support among Alaska Republican primary voters. His challengers suggest otherwise and argue that, even if he can win the primary, Democrat Mark Begich will beat him in the November general election. The primary is open to registered Republicans and those not registered with any party.

The two most visible opponents against Stevens are Cuddy and Vickers.

"It is an election like no other. The Republican Party is in just a huge disarray right now," said Cuddy. "The corruption investigations have caused people just to rethink what they're going to be doing. I think the vast majority of voters today don't know how they're going to vote."

Cuddy has the most Alaska political history of any of the candidates running against Stevens. His campaign materials declare that he's "the only Republican who can win in November ... and live to carry on the fight against the liberals in Washington."

Cuddy said he's spent about $650,000 of his own money on the race. More than 90 percent of his campaign is self-financed, he said

The other Stevens opponent who is making some noise, Vickers, moved to Alaska in January after having hitchhiked to the state in 1970 and coming back almost every summer since.

Vickers' ads ask people to help him to "take back Alaska." He said he is no carpetbagger, a charge made by the Stevens campaign and in letters to the editor.

"I think as people have got to know me in the campaign they know that's not true. And the interesting thing about all that is the Justice Department has now filed a motion ... they said there's no legitimate doubt that Ted Stevens lives full time in Washington, D.C. I live full time in Anchorage," Vickers said earlier this week.

Vickers' campaign ads are everywhere, from the sides of buses to television spots, where a voiceover declares that "Vic Vickers Will Stop the Corruption!"

Stevens wouldn't discuss the charges against him, saying that's the job of his lawyers. He wouldn't say how he's been paying for those lawyers, but said he expects to set up a legal defense fund, whose donors will have to be disclosed under the law, similar to Alaska Rep. Don Young, who is also under federal investigation.

Stevens is tentatively scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 24


E-mail Sean Cockerham at scockerham(at)
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