ANCHORAGE — Republican Don Young and Democrat Steve Lindbeck easily won their primary U.S. House races Tuesday night, setting up a showdown in the general election.
Young is the longest-serving Republican in the House and is seeking a 23rd term. Lindbeck says Young doesn’t have the clout those years of experience should bring, and there is a need for new leadership.
But at age 83, Don Young shows no signs of slowing down or any cooling of his fiery demeanor.
Eight years ago, the U.S. Rep. Young dubbed his Republican primary opponent, then-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, “Captain Zero.” This year, he has dismissed the 61-year-old Lindbeck as too old to replace him.
“By the time he gets to my age, he’ll be dead,” Young told the Peninsula Clarion newspaper in Kenai this year.
Neither candidate faced major opposition in Tuesday’s primary. Young handily won the race with about 70 percent of the early vote, and Lindbeck won his primary with about 70 percent of the vote.
Voting at Kincaid Elementary School in southwest Anchorage, Nancy Shefelbine and Gabriele Peterson chose Young.
Shefelbine called him a “known quantity.” Peterson said power comes with experience, and no one has more.
“He has been there the longest, he has performed for us, even though he’s a little strange sometimes, he gets the job done, and I am very disappointed with the Democrats and the way they run our government so far,” Peterson said.
But it doesn’t mean Young doesn’t have his distractors.
Anchorage voter Phil Cannon, who is registered as an independent, voted against Young, saying it’s time for him to go.
Another Anchorage resident, Republican Ken Owens, said there were no House candidates he wanted to vote for, so he didn’t vote for anyone in that race. Owens believes Young’s effective days are long behind him.
“He should have retired 20 years ago, gracefully,” Owens said.
Independent voter Dennis Bromley chose Lindbeck. He’s tired of gridlock in both Washington, D.C., and Juneau when decisions must be made, he said.
“Both sides need to come to grips with this, but I have a feeling that the Republicans have been stonewalling and have been against a lot of the positions that Obama has taken, be they good, bad or indifferent. But we have to move ahead.”
Patricia Wolf and Dr. Thomas Wood also chose Lindbeck.
“I know him well. I think he’s very intelligent. I think he’s thoughtful. I think he’s been in Alaska for a long time. And I do not like Don Young’s attitude. I don’t like that he misses meetings. I do not like the way he votes on issues,” Wolf said.
Wood said he’s known of Lindbeck’s public radio and television work for 30 years. “I think it’s time we have a change in our representative. We only have one in the state, and I believe his age and so forth demand that he be replaced,” Wood said.
Young’s Republican primary challengers were little-known candidates Stephen Wright, Gerald Heikes and Jesse “Messy” Tingley.
The other Democrats running were William “Bill” Hibler and Lynette “Moreno” Hinz, while the other Libertarian candidates are Jim McDermott and Jon Watts.
Young touts his senior status in the House as being able to deliver to Alaska and says whoever replaces him should be younger so they too can build that type of seniority for the state.
“It would take years, if not decades, for someone else to be able to achieve that in the House,” he told The Associated Press in a recent email.
Lindbeck, a former newspaper editor and the top officer of Alaska Public Media, told the AP that Young’s decades of service should be celebrated. But he says Young doesn’t have the influence in Congress commensurate with those years of service.