WASHINGTON – Ted Stevens, an old-style Senate giant and the chamber’s longest-serving Republican, delivered his swan song address and yielded the floor for the final time Thursday. He was saluted by his colleagues as a staunch friend and teacher.
“My mission in life is not completed,” Stevens said in his farewell speech on the Senate floor, as about a quarter of the chamber’s 100 members gathered to hear him in the gallery filled with his friends and family.
Stevens, 85, made only a passing reference to his loss in his bid for a seventh Senate term and his felony convictions on charges of lying about gifts on Senate financial disclosure forms.
“I look only forward and I still see the day when I can remove the cloud that currently surrounds me.”
Family members and aides wept as Stevens recounted his six Senate terms that began not even a decade after his home state, Alaska, achieved statehood.
Stevens was there when President Richard M. Nixon authorized an oil pipeline across Alaska that secured the new state’s economy. He became legendary for bringing federal dollars home to a territory that had yet to be fully settled.
Stevens lost his re-election bid this week to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat, and is appealing his felony convictions.
He was one of the Senate’s most colorful characters, known for wearing a necktie bearing the Incredible Hulk during appropriations fights and for his efforts to allow gas and oil exploration in the Arctic.