Indictment will hurt Stevens' primary hopes, pollsters say

Tuesday's indictment of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens throws the Republican primary for the Senate race wide open, Alaska pollsters say.

"Ted's prospects for winning the primary, they obviously just went up in smoke," said Anchorage pollster Marc Hellenthal. "It kind of opens up the Republican primary."

Hellenthal said developer David Cuddy would be the odds-on favorite for the Republican nomination but has run a lackluster campaign so far. He said the wild card is Alaska political newcomer Vic Vickers, owner of a Florida-based maritime company, who plans to spend $750,000 of his own money on winning the primary.

"If a guy is going to spend $750,000, you can't ignore him, and it's not like Dave (Cuddy) is a household name," Hellenthal said.

Vickers only moved to Alaska full time in January but has been coming to the state almost every year for the past 38 years. Vickers isn't well-known in Alaska politics but plans to start running TV ads Wednesday.

Ivan Moore, another Anchorage pollster, said he doubts Stevens could win the Republican primary while under indictment. But it is possible, he said. Primary voters tend to be "true believers," he said.

Moore said he did a poll on the Senate race last week that showed Stevens with 70.4 percent of the support in the primary, Cuddy with 20.4 percent and Vickers with just .4 percent.

"Today's news has blown a big fat hole in that," Moore said.

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich faces Ray Metcalfe in the Democratic primary.