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Indicted senator wins Alaska GOP primary

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Ted Stevens easily defeats challengers in Alaska's GOP primary
  • Six-term senator faces charges of filing false Senate ethics reports
  • Stevens, who has pleaded not guilty, faces Anchorage mayor in November election
  • Rep. Don Young barely leading in Republican primary
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(CNN) -- Indicted U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens easily turned back challengers in Alaska's Republican primary, but the state's longtime representative, Don Young, was locked in a neck-and-neck battle with a GOP rival Wednesday.

Both Stevens and Young have been embroiled in controversies over congressional spending in the past two years. Stevens has pleaded not guilty to charges that he filed false Senate ethics reports.

With just under 98 percent of precincts reporting, Stevens led a field of seven with more than 63 percent of the vote, the state Division of Elections reported. The 84-year-old senator is seeking a seventh full term and will face Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, the Democratic primary winner, in November.

Meanwhile, Young led Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell by fewer than 150 votes out of more than 93,000 cast in the GOP primary for the state's sole seat in the House of Representatives.

"What a night," the 18-term incumbent said in a statement. "This has been an extremely spirited and hard-fought primary, and now it appears as if we won't know the results until sometime Wednesday, at the earliest."

Young said that about 4,000 absentee ballots remain to be counted, along with votes from the outstanding precincts.

"I'm confident the final results will give us a primary victory, and we can move on to the general election," he said.

Young and Parnell, who was backed by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, each had about 45 percent of the vote. A third candidate, Gabrielle LeDoux, took a little more than 9 percent. The eventual winner will face Ethan Berkowitz, the victor in Tuesday's Democratic primary, in November.

Both Young and Stevens were backers of the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," a $223 million span that would have connected the Alaskan mainland to Gravina Island, population 50. The funding "earmark" became shorthand for pork-barrel spending, and Congress later rescinded it.

In April, the Senate voted to seek a federal investigation into a 2005 highway-funding earmark that was altered between the time Congress approved the spending bill and when President Bush signed it.

The $10 million allocation was changed to put the money into building a freeway interchange in Lee County, Florida, where local business leaders contributed $40,000 in campaign funds to Young. The congressman's staff made the changes to fix a mistake in the original bill, his office said, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the chamber's ethics committee to investigate the matter.

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