I wasn’t a fan of Ted Stevens, but I think that he did a great job representing the State of Alaska. He was a huge force in the Senate for several decades. I find the news of his death very sad. My heart goes out to the loved ones of Senator Stevens and family members of the others killed in the plane crash.

From TPM:

Former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) passed away as a result of a plane crash last night outside of Dillingham, Alaska. He was 86 years old. He leaves behind a wife, Catherine; five children from his first marriage to Ann — Ben, a former state Senator, Susan, Beth, Walter, Ted Jr.; and Lily, his daughter with Catherine.

Stevens was the longest-serving Republican member of the United States Senate in its history, having first won election to it in 1968.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: The Senator From Alaska: Ted Stevens’ Political Career]

According to a profile in the Anchorage Daily News, Stevens began his political career volunteering for Eisenhower’s Presidential campaign in 1952 while working at a DC-based law firm: he left to take a job he was offered at the Interior Department which then failed to materialize. He accepted a job offer with an Alaskan law firm instead, driving to Fairbanks in February 1953. Stevens got the job offer from Charles Clasby because Stevens was the D.C.-based lawyer of Clasby’s client, coal miner Emil Usibelli.

Stevens spent only 6 months working for Clasby before he was offered the job of U.S. Attorney for the Alaska Territory, and the Senate confirmed him in 1954. Stevens built a reputation as a pugnacious prosecutor, though he denied reports that he regularly accompanied the U.S. Marshalls on raids packing heat, telling the Anchorage Daily News in 1994:

He remembers only one such incident. It was in Big Delta, about 75 miles southwest of Fairbanks. “We decided we’d take a combined force down there because of information we’d received about a lot of different violations of federal and territorial law. There was a prostitution ring, and drugs and violations of liquor laws.”They wanted to make sure everything was done right, that the evidence would be admissible, the arrests would be legal, so they asked me if I wanted to go along. I said, yeah. “So one of them suggested I ought to take a gun,” he said. “So he checked me out a gun. It was a holster with a gun. It wasn’t two guns. I never had two guns. I never walked around town with it. “But someone did see it,” he said. “Someone saw us coming back in or going out of the federal building that day and said, ‘Jesus Christ, there’s the damn district attorney carrying a gun.’ ” The report spread “up and down Fourth Avenue in every bar.” (more…)