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Stevens Seeks To Fend Off GOP Conference Expulsion Vote

Convicted Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), facing possible expulsion from the Republican Conference next week, is contacting his Republican colleagues and urging them "to give him a chance" and hold off on any such vote until his legal appeal is resolved.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has publicly declared that he will offer a motion next Tuesday to kick Stevens out of the Republican Conference, thus stripping him off his committee assignments.

But  Stevens has been calling his GOP leaders and other colleagues urging them to hold off, according to GOP sources. In private conversations, Stevens is assuring his fellow Republicans that he will step down if he loses his appeal, but in the meantime, he wants them to hold off on kicking him out of the Republican Conference.

"There is not a lot of support for DeMint right now," said an aide to one Senate Republican who has spoken with Stevens. "I think members are taking a wait-and-see attitude."

Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, was convicted on Oct. 27 on seven counts of failing to report more than $250,000 in improper gifts. Despite the conviction, Stevens has maintained his innocence and refused to resign from the Senate.

Stevens' attorneys have argued that Justice Department prosecutors deliberately failed to turn over potentially exculpatory material to the defense during his month-long trial. Judge Emmet Sullivan has given Stevens' attorneys until early next year to prepare motions on challenging his conviction.

Stevens was initially leading his re-election battle against Anchorage Mark Begich by more than 3,000 following Election Day. But after a further count on Wednesday night, Stevens is now 814 votes behind Begich, which may make any Republican Conference expulsion vote moot.

There are still nearly 40,000 votes to counted, according to Alaska Democratic Party officials, and an automatic recount could occur, delaying a final certification of the vote until December.

Senate Republicans were privately dismayed by the possibility that Stevens could be among their ranks in the 111th Congress, but after losing six seats on Election Day, they are not anxious to give up another seat unless absolutely necessary.

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