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Profile: Ted Stevens

Fly to Alaska and the chance is you will be landing at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Stevens profile
Mr Stevens has served in the US Senate since 1968

Republican Ted Stevens, 85, served six terms in office as Senator for Alaska and to many he was simply Mr Alaska, Uncle Ted.

But his bid for a seventh term in office was thrown into controversy when he was convicted of lying about gifts he had received from oil company Veco.

And analysts say the guilty verdict helped scupper his chances of winning re-election to the Senate in the 4 November election.

Mr Stevens is the longest-serving Senate Republican, first winning his seat in 1968. Throughout this time he played a crucial role in shaping the economic and social development of Alaska, which only became a state in 1959.

Federal funds

In 2000 he was named as Alaskan of the Century and the main airport was renamed in his honour.

Stevens walks into court
Mr Stevens is accused of failing to properly disclose gifts

The plaudits were in response to the millions of dollars in federal aid and funding he has channelled towards his state during his long political career.

For Mr Stevens, the money he has managed to secure for Alaska and Alaskans is good government.

"The only special interest I care about is Alaska," he has said.

But to his critics, Mr Stevens is the "King of Pork", managing to attach funds for his pet projects on to all manner of legislation.

Citizens Against Government Waste, an independent watchdog, estimates that between 1995 and 2008 he has managed to channel some $3.4bn (1.8bn) Alaska's way.

Arguably his most controversial move came in 2005, when he pushed to get more than $200m (107m) of federal earmarks to build Alaska's "bridge to nowhere", a project that was ultimately dropped.

'Tubes'

During his long political career, Mr Stevens has served on many Senate committees, including as chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Ethics, Rules, and Governmental Affairs Committees.

STEVENS' POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS
Joined the Army Air Corp during WWII
Degrees at UCLA and Harvard Law School
Elected to Alaska House of Representatives in 1964
Appointed to the US Senate in 1968

He served as president pro tem of the Senate from 2003 to 2007, which put him third in line for the presidency.

Mr Stevens, as his effectiveness in securing funds highlights, is a canny political operator, managing to negotiate with Republicans and Democrats alike to pass legislation important for his state.

He has been a vocal advocate of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, to oil drilling, an increasingly controversial issue in the US.

In 2006, he was widely lampooned when he referred to the internet as "a series of tubes that get clogged" during a debate, a description that rapidly became a catchphrase on the web.

But since July 2008, his image has been tarnished by the Veco controversy.

Mr Stevens's bid to be returned to the Senate in November's election looked tough even before he was found guilty on 27 October.

He lost out in a knife-edge race against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, giving the senate its first Democratic representative from Alaska for 30 years.

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SEE ALSO
Alaskan senator's trial under way
22 Sep 08 |  Americas

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