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Down the ballot: Begich wins

ALASKA: Begich was declared the winner in Alaska's Senate race after he "widened his lead to 3,724 votes in Tuesday's count of absentee and questioned ballots. The lead is insurmountable, as the only votes left to count are approximately 2,500 ballots from overseas," the Anchorage Daily News reports. "Stevens could ask for a recount but his campaign would have to pay for it. The state pays if the margin is within .5 percent of the total votes cast. But Begich leads by just over 1 percent with more than 315,000 votes cast in the race."

The AP calls Stevens' defeat the "end of an era in which he held a commanding place in Alaska politics while wielding power on some of the most influential committees in Congress."

DELAWARE: The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reported yesterday that "Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden will not accept an appointment to the Senate to replace his father, according to knowledgeable state sources, a decision that scrambles the race to replace the vice president-elect in the Senate next year." Cillizza adds, "Biden's decision does not rule out the possibility that he would run for the remaining four years on his father's Senate term in a 2010 special election. And, the specter of Biden -- the son of the vice president returning from his military service to assume the Senate seat -- complicates the decision that will be made by either outgoing Gov. Ruth Ann Minner or incoming Gov. Jack Markell (both Democrats) about who to appoint to the two-year vacancy."  

GEORGIA: Bill Clinton -- who campaigns in the state today for Jim Martin (D) -- isn't the only bigwig who's coming to Georgia for the state's Senate run-off. Per Huffington Post, Al Gore will stump for Martin on Sunday. And Mitt Romney will campaign for Chambliss on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that it's unlikely that Chambliss and Martin will debate before the run-off. 

MINNESOTA: The Star Tribune: "Two weeks after the closest U.S. Senate election in Minnesota history, a massive hand recount of all 2.9 million votes gets underway today, with local officials working under the scrutiny of top lawyers brought in by both candidates. At stake is possible control of the Senate, where Democrats are within a few seats of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority, putting intense pressure on county auditors who now find they may have to explain every decision they made in the closest race in the country."

"That pressure ratcheted up Tuesday as the campaign of Democrat Al Franken alleged in a last-minute brief to the state Canvassing Board that more than half the state's county auditors had botched the canvassing process and may have improperly rejected ballots that should have been counted… The Canvassing Board, made up of two state Supreme Court justices, two county judges and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, delayed ruling on whether to include the rejected ballots until next week and did not certify vote totals in the Senate race, saying instead that the results fell within the half-percentage point margin needed for an automatic recount."

According to the secretary of state's office, it "has set a goal of completing the recounting by Dec. 5 so the state canvassing board may begin the process of reviewing all challenged ballots on Dec. 16."