State Sen. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, sat down with the Empire in Juneau on Friday, May 6, 2022, to discuss his bid for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Revak was personally close with the late Don Young, and has earned the endorsement of Young’s widow. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

State Sen. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, sat down with the Empire in Juneau on Friday, May 6, 2022, to discuss his bid for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Revak was personally close with the late Don Young, and has earned the endorsement of Young’s widow. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Revak runs to replace Rep. Young

State senator wants to follow in Young’s footsteps

State Sen. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, had a close relationship with Alaska’s longtime U.S. Rep.Don Young, who died in March. In an interview with the Empire, Revak said the decision to run for Young’s seat was a deeply personal one.

“The last time I saw Congressman Young he had conversations about his belief in me, his belief in my future and his support for me personally and professionally,” Revak said.

He last saw Young was at a Safari Club International event, Revak said, where the representative called him “congressman.”

“That means a lot to me personally,” Revak said.

In an April 13, video posted to YouTube, Young’s widow Anne endorsed Revak, saying she believed her late husband would as well.

Revak moved to Alaska in 2009 and became a state lawmaker in 2018 in the Alaska House of Representatives representing Anchorage. He previously worked in Young’s office and for U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. He was appointed to the Alaska State Senate in 2019 following the sudden death of state senator Sen. Chris Birch.

[Fleeing war, Ukrainians are finding a home in Alaska]

Originally from Minnesota, Revak joined the U.S. Army shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, and served two tours in Iraq. It was during his second tour that he was wounded in a mortar attack. In the Alaska State Legislature, he’s sponsored bills in both the House and Senate regarding veteran’s issues, hunting permits and energy. He currently chairs the Senate Resource Committee and is vice chair of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.

Revak has also been involved in advocating for Alaska Native Veterans in Southeast Alaska who have for years been trying to receive land transfers from the federal government. Those veterans are eligible for a land grant of up to 120 acres, but all of the lands approved by the federal government are outside Southeast Alaska, the veterans’ traditional homelands. The Tongass National Forest was exempted from the 2019 federal legislation that authorized the transfers, and several Alaska politicians, Revak included, have called on the federal government to act on the issue.

Revak said his goal in Congress would be to form strategic partnerships with fellow lawmakers to ensure Alaska’s lone seat in the House can be effective. If that means crossing party lines, Revak said he’s willing to do what’s best for Alaska.

“I think it’s critical to make strategic relationships with members of Congress from all walks of life,” Revak said. “That was one of Young’s best qualities, was his ability to work with people he didn’t agree with.”

Revak is one of 48 candidates — and one of 16 Republicans — running in the special primary election to immediately replace Young until January. He’s also submitted his name for the regular election in November which will elect a representative for a full two-year term.

The state needs to build allies in Congress, Revak said, to shift the conversation on resource development in Alaska. According to Revak, much of the dialogue around Alaska’s resources becomes political, rather than a practical concern.

“The biggest threat to our state from the federal government is shutting down our resource production whether it be minerals mined or oil produced,” Revak said. “It’s a huge threat not just to the state but to the nation. We produce more responsibly than these other nations. We’re sending that demand to foreign countries, all of which have lower environmental standards than us and are less socially responsible.”

Revak said he sees himself following in Young’s footsteps, having received his political education from the late congressman.

“What was important to him was what was important to all Alaskans, he looked at everything through that lens,” Revak said.

Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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