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Missed a Step in Alaska

Yesterday I wrote about whether Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has a prayer in November, considering he was indicted on seven corruption-related charges. Stevens walked away with his last election in 2002, carrying 78 percent of the vote. It’s pretty startling now to see him in a toss-up contest. But I neglected an important step: the Republican primary in Alaska.

Over at Huffington Post, Seth Colter Walls had a conversation with Stevens’ toughest primary challenger, Alaska State Rep. Dave Cuddy. When asked about his prospects, Cuddy didn’t sound overly confident. From Walls:

"It is hard to know what will happen in the Republican primary," he told the Huffington Post. "It certainly feels to me like Sen. Stevens could not win if he makes the general election, but I’m not sitting here assuming I can be the Republican nominee."

Walls goes on to point out the deep divisions within the Alaska Republican party that have old-time loyalists lining up with Stevens and Rep. Don Young, who is under federal investigation for his own shady dealings with the same company that has Stevens in hot water. Meanwhile, a new brand of Republicans is siding with Gov. Sarah Palin, who took office on a reform platform. She’s suddenly found herself in her own scandal involving the firing of her sister’s ex-husband, but at least that case seems unrelated to favors and gifts from oil companies and lobbyists. Whether Stevens can survive his primary will largely depend on where the break line falls. Plus, internal fights are going to detract from party work, like getting out the vote.

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