Opposites face off in rematch for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Don Young was reelected over challenger Alyse Galvin in 2018
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 9:29 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska has a single seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and since 1973, that seat has been filled by one man: Rep. Don Young, the incumbent on this year’s general election ballot.

A rematch arrives in 2020 that will almost certainly be close, following a contest two years ago that brought 46.5 percent of the votes to Young’s challenger, Alyse Galvin, according to the State of Alaska Division of Elections.

While Young is hoping to take his 25th term in office, Galvin, who said she identifies as an independent but is this year’s Democratic nominee, is hoping to unseat him. Both are looking for a win and a big hand in Alaska’s future but seemingly are complete opposite choices.

Young, 87, is the Dean of the House as the longest-serving representative currently in office and has been in his position for nearly half a century.

“I don’t even know who’s running against me,” he said, "because I believe in the job I can do and the decision of the Alaskans. And I believe they will again select Don Young, because I’ve got the knowledge, I’ve got the experience and I’ve got the fire to do it.

“I know I speak different from some people, but that’s good for Alaskans. You can’t be timid in this job.”

His opponent, the 55-year-old Galvin, is taking her second shot at Young’s seat since 2018.

“That we have growth, that we have movement, that we’re moving into the 21st century,” Galvin said of what she hopes and plans to work on should she win the election. “Unlike my opponent, I’m proud to say I’ve opened a laptop, I’ve texted people, I am of the 21st century. I’m ready to move Alaska there as well.”

The two are also banking on different platforms. Galvin — who formerly owned a small business, served as a partnership liaison for the Department of Education and Early Development and founded education advocacy group Great Alaska Schools — has long touted being an outspoken proponent for education and health care, saying that change is needed.

“Now it’s time for Alaskans to have a new voice, after 47 years, that’s focusing on keeping our good jobs here and expanding,” she said, “thinking about the next generation of jobs, thinking about health care costs and how we must make a difference.”

Among other causes, Galvin has also supported revitalizing the state economy through building on its strengths, including infrastructure; reducing costs of health care, including lower prescription drug prices and protection of Medicare; and ensuring quality education for children across the state.

Young, however, has long advocated specifically for development across Alaska and moved causes such as transportation and military expansions forward since his start in the House. He pointed to his work over the past several decades as to why he should stay.

“We as a state have to understand transportation, the economy through production of resources, and the building of resources nationally on the military side is what brings the economy," he said. "The change concept? That’s political.

“Why would you change?” he continued. “It’s sort of like having your heart worked on for 10 years with a fine heart doctor, and then say, ‘Let’s have change and go hire a dishwasher to work on your heart.’ I mean, what is the purpose of change if I’m doing the job? And I’m doing the job. No one can deny that.”

The representative’s long list of accomplishments over the past several decades, including five bills for which he was the main sponsor becoming law, is highlighted, he said by several items in particular: expansions of U.S. Coast Guard facilities in the state; reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary law — and one written in large part by Young himself — governing marine fisheries management for America’s federal waters; and the opening of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to exploration.

Back in 2018, Galvin’s tally was the highest total for a challenger to Young since 1990.

Read more about the candidates vying for Alaska’s seat in the House of Representatives here.

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