US House Races/Alaska

Report by Bruce Driver from Indivisible North Boulder.

Alaska At-Large District:

Candidates are Don Young (incumbent R) and Alyse Galvin (D)

Young has been Alaska’s Representative since 1973.   I was among the staffers on the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee when he got to D.C. and joined the committee.   I remember him to be intemperate, poor on the environment, funny and a clever politician. He has a B.A. from Chico State in California in Education, joined the US Army for 3 years, moved to Alaska, became an elementary-school teacher in Fort Yukon and a was tug and barge operator.   He was then elected to the Alaska House of Representatives and then the Alaska Senate. He has won his recent races handily. The closest anyone has come to taking him out in recent years was in 2008 when he won by 5 points. His votes in this Congress show him to be a loyal right-winger, voting with Trump 93% of the time.  He voted “yea” on all the following measures: carbon tax would be detrimental to the U.S. economy; non-hydro Reclamation title transfers from the U.S. government; the harsh and compromise Goodlatte immigration bills; the tax-cut bill of 2017; the Omnibus spending bill of 2018; inconsistently, the Balanced Budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution; concealed-carry reciprocity; the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act; the delay of federal ozone standards; the override of Obama’s stream protection rule; defunding of sanctuary cities; and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.   His website says he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. He is now the Chairman Emeritus of the House Natural Resources Committee, from which he says that “we should be using what God has provided to further U.S. interests and build our economy.” He had $435,000 cash on hand in late July. By sector his major contributors include: Oil and Gas; Transportation Unions; Lawyers/Law Firms; Fisheries/Wildlife; and Building Trade Unions.

Alyse Galvin Education seems to be her principal passion.   She has a consulting firm focusing on it, and she founded and operated Great Alaska Schools, a citizens’ organization pushing for smaller class sizes and other reforms of Alaska public schools.  She has also been an owner of Galvin Daycare. From her website: (1) Health and Wellness: She wants to open healthcare exchanges across state lines, increase the attention paid to mental health and fight Trump’s attempts to reduce money for health, especially in Alaska; she is pro-choice and pro-access to contraception.   (2) Jobs and economic development: She would work to expand Arctic shipping and tourism by building large-vessel ports in Alaska; she supports net neutrality and equal pay for equal work; she is skeptical of the value of drilling in the Arctic Ocean but she supports “safe and responsible” oil exploration in ANWR. (3) Education: she says this is mainly why she’s running for Congress, and her section on education is lengthy.  She supports more federal funding for pre-K; improve the nation’s family leave and child care support; greater incentives to educate highly-qualified teachers; more attention to voc. and tech. education; reduce burden of student loan debt and explore loan forgiveness for taking certain jobs. (4) Safety and Security: She wants more money for community policing; a strong re-entry program from prison and drug treatment; more comprehensive background checks for gun sales; elimination of bump stocks; better mental health services; and she will work to maintain Alaskans’ right to bear arms.  (5) Environment: She says that Alaska is ground-zero for the negative impacts of climate change, but does not say exactly what she’d do about in terms of national policy. She says that Alaskans must adapt to melting permafrost and coastal erosion and move more swiftly to renewable energy. I’d call her a cautious progressive in a tough state. She had $252,000 in cash on hand in early August. By sector, her major contributors are Retired; Health Professionals; Education; Civil Servants and Lawyers/Law Firms.

Description of District: This is the entire state of Alaska.   It is the largest congressional district in the U.S.  Wikipedia says that it is 66% urban. Hard to believe that.   It is 64% White, 3% Black, 5% Asian, 14% Native American and 8% “Other.”   Cook says that its PVI is R+9. Its HMI is $74,000, making it a wealthy district, in part thanks to revenues from oil production.   Trump beat Hillary by 14 points in 2016. Young is a 23-term (!) incumbent, the longest-seated present Member of the House. Yet Cook rates the race this fall as “likely R,” after having initially rated it as “solid R.”  Economically, the state depends on oil production, military installations, fisheries, tourism, government and a growing white-collar sector in Anchorage. Anchorage and Fairbanks are its largest cities.

Summary: It is definitely time for Young to leave the House.   He’s out of touch with Alaska in 2018 and stubbornly clings to bad environmental, healthcare and other policies.   But he is as entrenched as you can be having served as long as he has been in the House. There have always been many Alaskans who do not like him and this cohort is growing as the state changes.   Is Galvin the person to take him out? It depends on her political skills and how hard she works at it. She certainly deserves our support. Alaska deserves much better.