The recent passing of Rep. Don Young, our state’s longest-serving member of Congress, was a gut-punch to all Alaskans. His seniority as Dean of the House and years of experience served Alaska well. He was undeniably unique and his replacement will have big shoes to fill.
The August special election to complete the remaining five months of Young’s term and the November general election to choose his successor are occurring at a perilous time in the history of our state and nation.
Alaska’s resource industries are under assault by Biden administration officials in their foolish war to eliminate American fossil fuels and over-regulate mining. Even worse, America is becoming more dependent on oil and strategic minerals from foreign sources that are either hostile to the U.S., have little regard for environmental safeguards, or both.
Our country is divided like never before. Members of Congress must reverse, not advance, the polarization that has plagued it for years. That is the only way Congress can rein in spending to moderate inflation, lower the cost of living, and help fully recover the U. S. economy.
It will take someone with uncommon qualifications to be effective at addressing these dual challenges.
For that reason, Nick Begich, Republican candidate for Congress, will be my first choice on both ballots.
Unlike his uncles and namesake grandfather, Nick Begich is a lifelong Republican. While he was born in Alaska, he was raised Outside by his maternal grandparents. His conservative roots were evidenced early when he joined his high school Republican club as a ninth grader.
He earned a BBA in entrepreneurship from Baylor University and an MBA from Indiana University before entering the private sector in several endeavors. Today, as the CEO and founder of FarShore Partners, a global software development company with over 120 full-time employees, Nick is a self-made success story. He returned to Alaska almost 20 years ago and resides in Chugiak, Alaska, with his wife, Dharna, a pharmacist, and their 9-year-old son, Nicholas.
Ironically, Nick Begich has been criticized for the success he has earned (he lent his campaign $650,000) but voters should find it refreshing to connect with a candidate who became prosperous before getting into politics.
After co-chairing Don Young’s 2020 congressional campaign, Nick was one of the few candidates to declare his candidacy for Congress before Alaska’s lone House seat became vacant. Since Don Young’s passing, dozens of Johnny-come-lately’s have jumped into the race. Meanwhile, for the past 10 months, Nick has crisscrossed the state, sometimes holding up to four events in one day, while listening to Alaskans articulate how their area can best be served in the next Congress.
Nick’s skill in understanding other viewpoints, explaining his positions, and finding common ground has netted him an impressive list of endorsements from every area of the state, including the sole endorsement of the Alaska Republican Party. His familiarity with a wide range of issues from school choice to resource development to monetary policy and artificial intelligence will be an asset in a freshly elected House of Representatives that will include many new faces.
It’s very likely that next year both houses of Congress will be under Republican control, and it is in Alaska’s best interest to elect a member of that party. A freshman Democrat will have little hope of positively influencing the direction of legislation that would benefit Alaska — especially considering the Biden administration has already demonstrated its intention to lock up Alaska and its resources.
Nick Begich sees Alaska as the answer to America’s over-reliance on foreign oil and the key to America’s energy security. He realizes that a balanced approach which moves the United States toward a “greener economy” necessitates producing oil, gas and critical minerals that will support that effort.
No Democrat can or will effectively advocate that. And too many other Republican challengers lack the skill to do so.
Nick Begich believes that the future of Alaska and America are inextricably linked. Alaska’s abundant resources can be developed responsibly to help make America a world leader again.
Electing Nick Begich to the U. S. Congress is the first step.
Win Gruening is a retired businessman and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Born and raised in Juneau, he is a 30-plus year member of Juneau Downtown Rotary Club and has been involved in various local and statewide organizations.