The Alaska Division of Elections has officially declared Democrat Mark Begich the winner of the 2008 Alaska senatorial election against incumbent Republican Senator Ted Stevens. With only 2700 absentee ballots left to count, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich leads Stevens by 3724 votes (1.18% lead). Begich needed to beat Stevens by approximately 1500 votes in order to avoid an automatic state-paid recount. Stevens may appeal to the Republican party to pay for a recount, however, ongoing questions surrounding the legitimacy of the 2008 Alaskan election, as well as Stevens' status as a convicted felon, make the prospects of a Republican party-paid recount fairly dubious.
Ted Stevens is famous for his diatribe criticizing network neutrality in which he described the internet as "a series of tubes." The comment went on to be lampooned by the media; most memorably by John Stewart of The Daily Show. The Alaska senator is also famous for his "bridge to nowhere", and brought his 40 year (10 term) career to a close by being found guilty of 7 felony counts of failing to properly report gifts from VECO executives.
Mark Begich is a highly regarded mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, and ran an unusually positive campaign against the incumbent Stevens, focusing mainly on expanding energy production and alternative energy solutions, as well as the Alaskan economy.
With Begich's victory, this puts Democrats at the 58 seat mark in the senate, with Michigan and Georgia still up in the air.