Known sometimes as Washington state's third U.S. senator for his>"/>
Update: Stevens was killed in the crash, his family has now confirmed (11:30 a.m.).
Known sometimes as Washington state's third U.S. senator for his support of local projects and the large donor base he developed among Seattle's fishing and aerospace industries, former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is reported to have been among the nine people aboard a private plane that crashed near Dillingham, southwest of Anchorage last night. Rescue teams so far have been unable to reach the crash site and Stevens' condition is unknown at this time. But five of the passengers are reported to have died. Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe was also aboard.
Stevens, 86, who survived a 1978 plane crash that killed his wife Ann (and had a premonition that's how he would someday die), is remembered not only for his taxpayer largess - pork - including the Bridge to Nowhere, but for his Incredible Hulk neckties and some memorable comments, most famously noting that the Internet is "not a big truck. It's, it's, a series of tubes."
His downfall after 40 years as a Republican senator came with the filing of corruption charges in 2008. He was convicted of seven counts and the following week lost his Senate seat to Democrat Mark Begich. The indictment was later dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct.
In earlier years, Stevens was a close ally of Sen. Warren Magnuson in developing the Northwest U.S./Bearing Sea fishing industry, although in later years he tried to repeal marine mammal protections won in the Senate by Manguson. He also frequently battled Sen. Maria Cantwell over, among other issues, oil-spill prevention.
As SW reported in a 2006 cover story on Stevens, he had such close political and geographical ties with the region that he was a de facto third senator from the Evergreen State:
Since Republican Sen. Slade Gorton's unseating by Cantwell in 2000, Stevens has become keeper of the state's conservative agenda in the U.S. Senate when he crosses swords with Cantwell and her fellow Democrat, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. State Republican Party chief Chris Vance doesn't quite buy the notion of Stevens' impressive local influence. "We have never talked to him or his staff," Vance says. But they might think about it. Cantwell's 2006 opponent, Republican Mike McGavick, the former president and chief executive of Safeco, has already met with the Arctic strongman in D.C. to discuss regional issues.
Additionally, Stevens is financially backed by some of Washington state's biggest businesses, including the Boeing Co., his largest single benefactor, giving $93,500 to his campaigns since 1989. According to federal election records, when he was re-elected to his seventh term in 2002--he'll be up again in 2008 at age 85--about $436,000 of his relatively modest $3.2 million campaign fund came from Anchorage and $220,000 from the Seattle area.
That's about 7 percent of his funding from here. For contrast, Cantwell raised $643,000 from the Seattle area in 2000, but because she amassed $11.6 million in total contributions--$10 million of it her own money--Seattle's percentage for her was less than for Stevens, 5.5 percent...