Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) called on Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska ) Thursday to step down from his seat and run in a special election in the wake of the Justice Department’s decision to drop corruption charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Begich narrowly defeated Stevens in 2008, a contest overshadowed by Stevens’ October conviction.
Palin’s call came after a reporter at the Fairbanks News Miner emailed her a copy of a statement by Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich calling for Begich to step down.
Asked for her response, Palin simply wrote back: “I absolutely agree.”
When the reporter wrote back to confirm that Palin meant she’d like to see Begich resign in order to hold a special election, the governor responded: “Yes.”
In an email to POLITICO, Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton confirmed the governor’s position. “She absolutely agrees that there should be a special election,” Stapleton wrote. “Stepping down to hold the special election would be the right thing to do.”
In the statement Palin was provided, Ruedrich said that “the only reason Mark Begich won the election in November is because a few thousand Alaskans thought that Sen. Ted Stevens was guilty of seven felonies.”
“A special election will allow Alaskans to have a real, non-biased, credible process where the most qualified person could win, without the manipulation of the Department of Justice,” he added.
Begich issued a statement Thursday insisting that he will remain in his seat, despite Republican calls for his resignation.
“Today, with our country in a severe recession, it’s more important than ever that we have a senator focused on fixing our economy so Alaskans have the jobs they need to support their families,” he said. “That is my job in the Senate, and I’m honored to serve Alaskans for the next six years.”
Begich spokeswoman Julie Hasquat did not directly respond to Palin’s call for the senator’s resignation, instead pointing to Begich’s statement as a clear enough indication of his reaction.
“We’re not going to respond to her,” Hasquat said.