ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens returned to Alaska a convicted felon to begin a six-day campaign and to ask voters to return him to Washington for a seventh term.
Stevens, the longest serving Republican in the Senate, faces a re-election challenge from Democrat Mark Begich, the mayor of Anchorage, Alaska.
Stevens returned to Alaska Wednesday, two days after a federal jury in Washington convicted him on seven felony counts of failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations on Senate financial disclosure forms, The New York Times reported Thursday. He has maintained his innocence and vowed to appeal the verdict.
"I will represent Alaska in the Senate while my lawyers pursue the appeals to clear my name," Stevens said during a rally in Anchorage.
The Republican ticket of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called for Stevens to step aside, as did Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and GOP congressional leaders.
Stevens accused federal prosecutors of being "willing to do anything to win," implying that conducting the trial in Washington wasn't proper, the Times reported.
"If I had had a fair trial in Alaska, I would have been acquitted," Stevens said.