Despite convictions, Stevens leads in re-election battle

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens maintained his lead over challenger Mark Begich this morning with 99 percent of the precincts counted, just a week after being found guilty of seven felonies and pre-election polls showing him in deep trouble.

With all but three of Alaska's 438 precincts reporting, the Republican Stevens held a 1.5 percent vote advantage over Democrat Begich -- 48 percent to 46.5 percent. About 4,000 votes separate the candidates. The thin margin means the Senate race might not be decided for two weeks.

Still to be counted are roughly 40,000 absentee ballots, with more expected to arrive in the mail, as well as 9,000 uncounted early votes and thousands of questioned ballots. The state Elections Division has up to 15 days after the election to tally all the remaining ballots before finalizing the count.

If the lead holds, Stevens will shock the nation and be the first person ever re-elected to the U.S. Senate after being found guilty on criminal charges. Polls had shown the Republican down

Read the full story at