The public service record of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens is unequaled in this state, and perhaps the nation. That makes his indictment on federal charges this week all the more tragic.
These indictments strike at a man who has played a pivotal role in Alaskans' lives, and so the charges are felt and should be considered carefully by all who live here. It's important to note that the FBI made a point of emphasizing there are no bribery charges, but Alaskans will - some day - deserve a full explanation. Perhaps that will come in court.
Sen. Stevens' service record predates Alaska's statehood - to include a principal role in the formation of this state. He has championed Alaska's causes and had a hand in nearly every major step of progress in this part of the country for the past 50 years - not to mention his service as a pilot in World War II.
Because of these public ties, this accusation of wrongdoing is not only hard on Stevens and his family, it casts a shadow over Alaska.
Over the years we have loved Stevens when he is the bulldog at our side, and at times we barely tolerated him when he bared his teeth in disagreement.
He has shouldered a high level of public scrutiny and responsibility for a very long time. He doesn't just hold an office in Washington that calls for a modicum of respect, he has earned his title and is deserving of that respect.
The process to come will try Alaskans' patience; there's no denying that. We have a habit of wishing for swift justice and the past two years have made us leery of politicians who were close to VECO.
But for now Sen. Stevens has stated his innocence, he is still going to work and his campaign said he will continue to seek another six-year term. Justice will follow its long and winding course. In the meantime we have work to do, and elections are serious business.
These indictments and that looming shadow cannot be ignored as weighty factors in the coming election. Pending legal action aside, Alaskans have more to consider in these trying financial times and we will want to depend upon a U.S. senator who has been chosen based on issues rather than the one who was simply not under indictment.
Respectful debate and discussion as Election Day nears will give us that result.