Two-Minute Bio: Senator Ted Stevens

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens

Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens has been known for decades as one of the most effective pork-barrel politicians in Congress. In his four decades in the Senate, he has helped funnel money to his home state for everything from volcano research to salmon fishing to the infamous "bridge to nowhere," work that has made been him beloved by his constituents but fiercely criticized by his opponents.

For his critics, the trial he's currently facing — on federal corruption charges for allegedly lying about gifts from an oil infrastructure company — is sweet revenge. Opening arguments start Sept. 25.


• Is up for re-election in November

• Is known in Alaska as "Uncle Ted"

• Graduated from UCLA and Harvard Law School

• Is not an Alaska native. He was born in 1923 in Indianapolis and moved to Alaska in the 1950s to take a job as a lawyer

• Joined the Army Air Corps at age 19 and was a fighter pilot with the Flying Tigers during WWII

• First ran for U.S. Senate in 1962 and narrowly lost to a Democratic incumbent

• Was Alaska's campaign representative for Nelson Rockefeller's 1964 failed bid for the Republican nomination for President. That year, he experienced the biggest earthquake in Alaskan history and won his first elected office, as a member of the Alaska house of representatives

• Ran for U.S. Senate again in 1968. He lost, but when the state's senior senator died in office in December 1968, Alaska's governor appointed Stevens to the seat. He defeated a member of the John Birch Society in a special election in 1970 and has been since re-elected six times

• Was one of 12 Senators who started pushing for an end to the draft in 1970. (It ended in 1973)

• Supported troop withdrawal from Vietnam in 1971

• Helped pass a bill in 1973 to build the Alaskan pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez

• Survived a plane crash in 1978 that killed his wife. They had five children. Stevens later remarried

• Opposed legislation to preserve Alaskan wilderness, along with most Alaskans, in 1979. The legislation passed

• Famously complained on the Senate floor in 1982 that he hated living in crime-riddled Washington, D.C., saying, "If I had an opportunity to select where the capital would be, it certainly would not be here ... God forbid that anyone will ever tell me that the city of Washington is my home. It is not. I detest it. I really do"

• Blocked U.S. Postal Service efforts to charge more for mail in the Alaskan bush in 1992, forcing the service to raise rates across the entire country

• Is a stamp collector and reportedly sometimes uses a boxing bag to keep in shape

• Was a committed supporter of Title IX in the mid-1990s, which requires equal spending on men's and women's sports at the collegiate level ...

• ... but said in 1999 that women don't support defense spending as much as men because women prefer to spend money on "touchy-feely things"

• Got more than $500 million in pork-barrel projects for Alaska in 2000, including funding for spruce trees, salmon, the study of volcanoes and reducing fetal alcohol syndrome

• Wore an Incredible Hulk neck tie to the Senate floor in 2005 to advocate for drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. Despite saying that he was owed votes from other Senators for deals he had made with them in the past, the measure failed. Stevens called the legislation's defeat "the saddest day of my life"

• Was ridiculed in 2006 for referring to the Internet as a "series of tubes" while he was chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

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