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Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) conceded his reelection race to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) on Wednesday afternoon, averting a potential recount and solidifying a seventh takeover for Senate Democrats.

Stevens congratulated Begich, who less than a half-hour earlier told reporters that he had not heard from the incumbent.

Begich’s win was called by The Associated Press on Tuesday night and hands Democrats a 58th seat, with two GOP-held seats still outstanding. A large portion of absentee ballots delayed the result.

Stevens’s campaign said in a statement: “Given the number of ballots that remain to be counted, it is apparent the election has been decided and Mayor Begich has been elected.

“My family and I wish to thank the thousands of Alaskans who stood by us and who supported my reelection. It was a tough fight that would not have been possible without the help of so many Alaskans — people who I am honored to call my friends. I will always remember their thoughts, prayers and encouragement.

“I am proud of the campaign we ran and regret that the outcome was not what we had hoped for. I am deeply grateful to Alaskans for allowing me to serve them for 40 years in the U.S. Senate. It has been the greatest honor of my life to work with Alaskans of all political persuasions to make this state that we all love a better place.

“I wish Mayor Begich and his family well. My staff and I stand willing to help him prepare for his new position.”

The Hill

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