ANCHORAGE — U.S. Rep. Don Young hoped it wouldn’t take days to determine a winner in the race to be Alaska’s sole representative in the U.S. House, but a large number of uncounted absentee ballots prevented him from immediately claiming victory early Wednesday.
Young, the longest-serving Republican ever in the U.S. House, was seeking his 25th term in Tuesday’s election. By early Wednesday, Young maintained a lead over his challenger, Alyse Galvin, in votes counted Election Day but there were more than 110,000 absentee ballots to be tallied Nov. 10.
Young touted what an all-Republican delegation can accomplish for Alaska. Young said he gets along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even though he says the California Democrat gave money to Galvin.
“I’ll ask her why she wasted her money, but I’ve known a long time and I try to get things done,” Young told Alaska’s News Source. Galvin was optimistic the absentee ballots would break in her favor in her second race against Young. She lost by 7 percentage points in 2018.
“I am very optimistic as we wait for the remaining mail-in ballots to be counted beginning Nov. 10,” Galvin said in a Facebook video Tuesday night before early results were posted. “It’s important to make sure that each vote is counted.”
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 is an independent who won the Democratic primary.
Young counters he is 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 Don Young, his congressional spokesman Zack Brown and to Glenn Clary, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, were not returned to The Associated Press.
Edward Chamot, who moved to Anchorage with his wife in 1982 from Poland to reunite with family, voted for Republicans at the top of the ticket, including Young.
Chamot voted for Young to keep the seat, but says it’s time for him to “retire, probably. It’s time for him.”
Richard Miller, 30, of Anchorage voted for Galvin over Young,
“I haven’t voted for him since I was able to vote. I don’t Like him,” he said after casting his ballot at University Center, an Anchorage mall.
“Even my history teacher, who is a conservative, basically commented on how he just doesn’t show up, doesn’t do his job, likes to get a free paycheck, likes to gallivant around the world on the taxpayers’ dollars,” he said.
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.”
• By Mark Thiessen, Associated Press