[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/11/12/palin.future/art.palin.gi.jpg caption="Palin thanked Ted Stevens for his service to Alaska."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is congratulating Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich on winning his Senate race against veteran lawmaker Ted Stevens.
“I extend my congratulations to Mark Begich and his family,” Palin said in a statement released by her office Wednesday. “This is a new era for Alaska and I look forward to working with Mark on the many issues that are important to our state. I am confident he will add a compelling new voice to the U.S. Senate.”
"I also thank Senator Ted Stevens for his 40 years of dedicated service to Alaska,” the statement said. “His tireless efforts on behalf of the state he loves have benefited all those who call it home. Todd and I join all Alaskans in gratitude to Sen. Stevens."
Palin wasn’t always so effusive toward Stevens, the longest serving Republican in the Senate. During her vice presidential bid, after Stevens was indicted on seven felony counts, she would not say whether she planned to vote for the senator in his re-election bid.
In October, after Stevens was found guilty of making false statements on his financial disclosure reports, Palin initially said it was “a sad day” for Alaska but did not call for the senator to step down. The next day, in a television appearance with John McCain, Palin went a step further and said Stevens should indeed resign.
On Election Day in her hometown of Wasilla, Palin refused to say if she voted for Stevens.
“I am also exercising my right to privacy, and I don't have to tell anybody who I vote for, nobody does, and that’s really cool about America also,” she told a reporter.