By MARK THIESSEN
ANCHORAGE — Don Young, often referred to as Alaska’s third U.S. senator because of his long tenure as the state’s sole representative in the U.S. House, has been elected to a 25th term.
Young, the longest-serving Republican ever in the U.S. House, was declared the winner of the general election on Wednesday after officials started counting more 150,000 absentee and other votes. He again defeated Alyse Galvin — an independent who won the state’s Democratic primary — after winning against her in 2018.
With Young’s victory, Alaska’s three-member congressional delegation remains solidly Republican with U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, who also won reelection on Wednesday, and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
“While we respect the doctrine of ‘every vote counts,’ the votes on election night, coupled with the absentee votes now counted, show a clear victory for Congressman Young,” his campaign manager, Truman Reed, said in a statement Wednesday.
Galvin, 55, had tried to portray Young during her campaign as having lost congressional clout and at age 87 no longer able to do the job effectively.
Young countered by calling himself one of the most effective members of Congress and said he still works hard for Alaska. “To my friends, supporters, volunteers, and the tens of thousands of Alaskans that voted for me from Utqiagvik to Ketchikan, you have my gratitude and undying appreciation,” Young said in a statement. “I look forward to serving another term as Congressman for all Alaska.”
Galvin was not ready to concede the race, with her campaign insisting that a turnaround in the ongoing vote count was remotely possible.
“With over 85,000 votes left to be counted and a 42,000 vote deficit to make up, the path to victory is narrow but still possible. We will continue to watch the vote count with hope and patience,” her communications director, Bridget Galvin, said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Young during his campaign tried 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 carries the ceremonial title of Dean of the U.S. House, bestowed upon the longest-serving member. The position has no official duties other than swearing in the House speaker.
He was born June 9, 1933, in Meridian, California. After receiving his teaching degree in 1958 from Chico State College, he moved to Alaska. He taught at a Bureau of Indian Affairs school in Fort Yukon, a small community above the Arctic Circle and where he still calls home.
Young is 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.
In 1973, Young won a special election for the seat after Begich had been declared dead. 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 Gov. Sarah Palin.
Young and Galvin have a contentious relationship. During a 2018 debate, Galvin complained that he hurt her hand during a handshake. Young countered she reacted that way 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.”
In debates in this year’s race, Young called Galvin by the wrong first name three times, referring to her either as Alice or Allison. She corrected him after one instance. “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.