ANCHORAGE — U.S. Rep. Don Young is fending off a second challenge from Alyse Galvin for Alaska’s sole seat in the U.S. House after defeating her in 2018.
Young, the longest-serving Republican ever in the U.S. House, is seeking his 25th term in Tuesday’s election.
In this year’s race, Galvin, 55, tried to paint Young as someone who has lost clout and at 87 years-old is no longer able to carry out the job effectively. She’s an independent who won the Democratic primary.
Young counters he’s one of the most effective congressmen and continues to work hard for Alaska. He attempted to tie Galvin to liberal Democrats. An ad on an Anchorage city bus featured the face of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, with the words: “Alyse Galvin is on Team Pelosi.”
Young called Galvin by the wrong first name on three occasions in the last two debates ahead of the election, referring to her as Alice or Allison.
“OK, Don, let’s start with my name, Alyse Galvin. Please show that kind of respect that we know Alaskans expect of all candidates running for Congress,” she said when correcting him last week during a virtual forum organized by the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s not clear whether this was an intentional slight or whether he truly cannot remember his opponent of three years. Regardless, Alaskans deserve better,” said Galvin’s campaign manager, Malcolm Phelan.
Numerous messages seeking comment sent to Young’s campaign manager, his congressional spokesman Zack Brown and to Glenn Clary, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, were not returned to The Associated Press.
Young was born on June 9, 1933, in Meridian, California. He earned a teaching degree in 1958 from Chico State College and moved to Alaska. He eventually settled in the village of Fort Yukon, which is above the Arctic Circle, where he taught in a Bureau of Indian Affairs school.
He became only the fourth person since statehood to represent Alaska in the U.S. House. The Republican lost to U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, a Democrat, in the 1972 election even though Begich and Rep. Hale Boggs of Louisiana were missing and presumed dead when their plane never arrived in Juneau on a campaign trip.
Young won a special election for the seat the following year after Begich had been declared dead. Young now holds the ceremonial title of Dean of the House, bestowed upon the longest-serving member of the body with no official duties other than to swear in the speaker at the beginning of a new term.
Galvin is a third-generation Alaskan who is an advocate for public schools. Her husband, Pat, is an oil executive and served in the cabinet of former Republican Gov. Sarah Palin.
Young and Galvin have a contentious relationship. During a 2018 debate, Galvin complained that Young hurt her hand during a handshake. Young countered she staged that for publicity.
Young has always said he won’t mind losing to a qualified candidate, but in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News, he called Galvin “incompetent.”
The other races
Voting concludes Tuesday in Alaska’s closely watched U.S. Senate race, with Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan seeking to fend off a challenge from independent Al Gross.
The ballot also includes a rematch of the 2018 U.S. House race between U.S. Rep. Don Young and independent Alyse Galvin. President Donald Trump, who won the state in 2016, and Democrat Joe Biden are vying for Alaska’s three electoral votes.
Most of the Legislature’s 60 seats are up for election, with control of the House and Senate up for grabs. The Senate in recent years has been led by Republicans. Since 2017, the House has been held by a bipartisan coalition.
The ballot also includes a measure that would overhaul Alaska’s oil tax structure, which oil companies have spent heavily to defeat, and a measure that would create ranked-choice voting in Alaska general elections, an issue that has cut across party lines.
Supreme Court Justice Susan Carney faces opposition from some conservative groups in her retention vote. The Alaska Judicial Council, which reviews judicial performance, recommended she be retained.
Tens of thousands of Alaskans voted absentee and officials will not start counting those ballots until next week, meaning the outcome of some races may not be known Tuesday.
In the Senate race, Gross, a doctor who is running with Democratic support, has outraised Sullivan in a state that has long leaned Republican. The race drew outside attention with control of the Senate in play.
Sullivan sought to paint Gross as a liberal and flip-flopper who would side with Democrats on an “anti-Alaska agenda,” such as shutting down the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, while Gross cast Sullivan as timid and a “puppet” for Trump. Gross said he supports drilling in the refuge’s coastal plain and defended changing stances on some issues. Both candidates attacked each other’s integrity.