Juneauites packed Amalga Distillery Saturday afternoon, but they weren’t just there for the gin.
They came out to show their support for U.S. Congress candidate Alyse Galvin who’s running to unseat Alaska’s sole U.S. Rep. Don Young.
Glavin lost in 2018 in an election where she won nearly 47% of the vote, which her campaign claims was the strongest showing against Young since 2008. Young has been in office since 1973 and over the summer became the longest-serving Republican House member.
But Young’s 46 years in Congress hadn’t exactly endeared him to many of the attendees at the distillery Saturday.
“I think Don Young is an antique that needs to leave,” said Catherine Price, 79, a retired lab manager at Bartlett Regional Hospital. “He’s been there too long, and I don’t think he’s that effective or that interested in his constituency.”
The phrase “too long” was used repeatedly by attendees in describing Young, with many saying it was time for him to retire.
In an interview with the Empire, Galvin herself didn’t use those words and said she didn’t want to run a campaign of, “dragging somebody through the mud.”
However, she was critical of Young’s leadership in Washington, D.C.
“Alaskans are struggling, with everything from our university being pulled apart and not having a leader in Washington standing up when these things are happening,” Galvin said.
There were many issues Galvin said should have been looked at on behalf of the state such as the ferry system and health care costs.
“There’s no question we shouldn’t be paying these prices for pharmaceuticals,” Galvin said. “If we had somebody with a backbone willing to stand up, and I can’t wait to be that champion.”
There were over 50 people who came to see Galvin, and the crowd definitely skewed older. But there were a few young faces in the crowd who were eager to show their support.
Calvin Zuelow, 22, and Caitlyn Purdhome, 24, came because they wanted to get involved in Galvin’s campaign.
“I supported her in her last campaign and so just here to support her in the campaign and get involved,” Purdome said. “I feel like she cares about supporting young Alaskans.”
Purdome said support for education is part of Galvin’s appeal.
Zuelow said he felt Young had been in office for too long, and he wanted to see a change.
“I think he’s been in Congress for too long, I think it’s really limited Alaska’s ability to impact and move legislation.” Zuelow cited Young no longer being eligible for certain committee and subcommittee chairmanships due to term-limits as a concern. “He’s just sort of hanging out at this point it feels like to me.”
Young may still be eligile for some chairmanships were the Republicans to take control of the House of Representatives.
Galvin was raised and currently resides in Anchorage. She has worked as an advocate for public education with Great Alaska Schools, a pro-public education coalition group. In 2018, Galvin began her campaign as an Independent but following a state Supreme Court decision was allowed to run in the Democratic primary, which she won.
Though she won the Democratic primary she remained an Independent. Galvin’s campaign manager Malcolm Phelan said she intends to do the same in 2020.
Galvin said she was refusing to take any corporate Political Action Committee donations as a way of trying to rebuild trust in politics.
“I think probably the most important thing that people want to know is that I love Alaska more than anyone in Alaska,” Galvin said. “I think what we’ve been lacking most is a vision for Alaska’s future.”
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.