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5 candidates seek to unseat Rep. Young in the U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Don Young in 2018
Rep. Don Young in 2018(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 6:39 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Republican Congressman Don Young has held Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for the past 47 years. Five Alaskans are looking to replace him in November.

Young is confident he will win re-election again. He didn’t specify his legislative priorities, saying he goes to Congress to represent what Alaskans want. “I don’t always win but I also never give up,” Young said.

The 87-year-old Dean of the House was widely derided in March for referring to the novel coronavirus as the “beer virus” to a group of seniors in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

“When I made the comment about “the beer virus” that was at the very beginning (of the pandemic). I was with a group, the group loved it, the media didn’t,” Young said, before explaining that his comments were intended to inspire “calm” and that much remains unknown about how to tackle the virus.

In May, Young voted against the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion Democrat-sponsored bill that aims to provide economic relief from the pandemic. Young said the size of the spending would be inflationary and he would support a smaller package that’s similar to one being supported by Republicans in the Senate.

“Right now, we’re printing funny money,” he said.

John Nelson, a fellow Republican, is running against Young in the GOP’s Aug. 18 primary election. Nelson is pitching himself as the next generation to take over in Congress.

“We have an aging congressman who is 87-years-old, he’s served for 47 years and we have no succession strategy,” Nelson said, explaining that if elected, he would like to take Young to Washington D.C. as an adviser to help him navigate Congress.

Nelson, a financial adviser, says he understands Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and would be well-placed if he was elected to Congress. “Those are in my wheelhouse,” he said.

Gerald “Jer” Heikes, another challenger for the GOP House nomination, did not respond to a request for an interview. Heikes spoke to KTVF-TV in July, describing himself as a born-again Christian, fighting against grandstanding in Washington D.C.

There are three candidates currently seeking the Democratic House nomination.

Alyse Galvin is running again as an independent after losing to Young in 2018. A long-time public education advocate, Galvin said she is running “to improve our schools and make sure every kiddo has a great opportunity for a good job because they have the right skills.”

Galvin also wants to lower health care costs, support a strong economy for Alaska and responsible resource development. She insists she is far from the left-wing of the Democratic mainstream. “I am not a liberal Washington Democrat, I am an independent,” Galvin said.

Democrat Will Hibler, an arctic scientist who first visited Alaska in 1972, is focused on climate change and also unseating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If Hibler is elected and fails to unseat Pelosi, Hibler would caucus with Republicans.

An emeritus professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Hibler wants to build consensus across the aisle. “So my issue is make progress, don’t just say, ‘It’s going to be my way or the highway,’” he said.

Ray Sean Tugatuk is also currently listed as running for the Democratic primary. He did not respond to an interview request.

Of the six candidates for the House, only Galvin and Young have filed campaign finance disclosures with the Federal Election Commission. Galvin’s latest filing shows she has raised over $2.1 million from individual contributors compared to $640,000 for Young.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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