ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, narrowly lost his re-election bid Tuesday, marking the downfall of a Washington political power and Alaska icon who couldn't survive a conviction on federal corruption charges.
His loss to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich moves Senate Democrats within two seats of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.
Stevens' ouster on his 85th birthday will alter the power structure in the Senate, where he has served since 1968 while holding seats on some of the most influential committees in Congress.
Tuesday's tally of just over 24,000 absentee and other ballots gave Begich 150,728, or 47.76 percent, to 147,004, or 46.58 percent, for Stevens. There are about 2,500 overseas ballots yet to be counted.
A recount is possible.
Stevens' loss was another slap for Republicans in a year that has seen the party lose control of the White House, as well as lose seats in the House and the Senate. It also moves Democrats one step closer to the 60 votes needed to overcome filibusters in the Senate. Democrats now hold 58 seats, when two independents who align with Democrats are included, with undecided races in Minnesota and Georgia where two Republicans are trying to hang onto their seats.
Democrats have now picked up seven Senate seats in the Nov. 4 election.
Last month just days before the election, Stevens was convicted by a federal jury in Washington of lying on Senate disclosure forms to conceal more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations from an oil field services company.
Stevens said Tuesday that he will not ask President Bush to give him a pardon for his convictions.