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Alaska Reacts To Stevens Indictment

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

We go now to Anchorage and to reporter Richard Mauer who's been following the twists and turns of this corruption case for the Anchorage Daily News.

Richard, do you think that's a fair assessment from Martin Kaste there, that this is a senator with still incredible strength in your state?

RICHARD MAUER: Well, yeah. Certainly, Melissa. However, I mean, he was named Alaskan of the Century in 2000. The - you landed at Ted Stevens International Airport. Your kids - when they go visit the science center in Kenai, Alaska, they head to Ted and Catherine Stevens Challenger Center. If you're doing research in Juneau, marine research, you're doing it at the Ted Stevens laboratory there. Yes, very much so.

However, I would hasten to add that Senator Stevens has been named in news reports and - for at least a year and a half, and his son was one of those legislators whose offices were raided when he was Senate president. And there's a recent poll by a national poll that was taken - a Rasmussen poll that showed enormous negatives by - of independent voters and Alaskans in general towards Senator Stevens in the high 60 percentage, which is very, very high.

BLOCK: You know, you and I talked about exactly one year ago right after that raid on Senator Stevens' home. When is this indictment expected?

MAUER: Yes, I think the question only was when. Whether it would come before the Republican primary, which is next month, or whether they would wait until after the election. I think that people pretty much expected it would be coming soon. Of course, you know, Don Young, our congressman, is also under investigation. Unclear what's happening with that at this point.

BLOCK: Senator Stevens, the longest-serving U.S. Republican senator, known for bringing home the bacon to Alaska, was on the appropriations committee for many, many years, chair for a number of years as well. Do people in Alaska worry about what happens when and if they lose the senator of such seniority?

MAUER: Of course the Alaskans worry about that kind of thing. Because, I mean, as Senator Stevens says frequently in his defense of earmarks and the bacon, is that Alaska is a young state, it doesn't have a lot infrastructure and has really - is basically getting what he considers or what people consider to be the same share that, say, the western states got in the late 1800s when they built the railroads, et cetera, et cetera.

So, yeah. But, you know - but even our Republican governor, Sarah Palin, has said that Alaska needs to wean itself of earmarks and federal money if it's going to be a mature state. And so, there - it's a mixed feeling.

BLOCK: Okay. Richard Mauer, thanks so much.

MAUER: You're welcome.

BLOCK: Richard Mauer is a staff writer for the Anchorage Daily News. We were talking about today's indictment of Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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