ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The debate between the candidates for Alaska’s sole seat in Congress became contentious Thursday, with challenger Alyse Galvin saying she’s tired of U.S. Rep. Don Young misrepresenting her position on issues.
“I’m so tired of the lies that have been said throughout this entire campaign,” Galvin said, saying she doesn’t support the so-called Green New Deal, Medicare for all or for culling Second Amendment rights.
“I’m really upset that this campaign has come to this,” she said. “You’re better than that, Don Young. Alaska’s better than that. We expect more.”
Young countered that Galvin, whom he called Alice instead of Alyse at one point, was the one lying. He said if he had lost his clout, as she has claimed, then why did President Donald Trump sign two of his bills?
Young was one of several co-sponsors on two bills signed Wednesday.
Young, 87, the longest ever serving Republican in the U.S. House after being elected in 1973, is seeking his 25th term. He sat in a chair during the hour-long debate hosted by Alaska Public Media and KTUU-TV, while Galvin stood.
This is the second straight election he’s faced Galvin, 55, an independent who plans to caucus with Democrats if elected. Young won by seven percentage points in 2018.
Several times Galvin faulted Young for missing 14% of votes in Washington, which she said is much higher than average. He countered he’s made over 30,000 votes during his tenure.
Young admitted he’s missed some votes, but usually because he’s making a 5000-mile (8,047-kilometre) trip back to Alaska.
Both candidates were asked their position on open pit mines, including the proposed Donlin Gold Mine and Pebble Mine, which would be sited near the headwaters of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in southwest Alaska.
Galvin said she was not in favour of Pebble Mine, but would like to hear more about Donlin and ways it could be configured to not impact salmon runs on the Kuskokwim River.
Young simply said Donlin can be developed, and as for permitting Pebble Mine, he said that should be a state function and the federal government shouldn’t be involved.
Young said states and cities should be in control of getting the coronavirus pandemic under control and can do a better job than the federal government.
“You can’t stay hunkered down and have a great nation. You have to get back to production,” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping to do.”
Galvin said it’s very important to have help for small businesses.
“I think it’s critical that we have that lifeline there so that when we do get past this, we will have an opportunity to come back,” she said.
Young noted that Galvin has received campaign funds from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and has repeatedly throughout the campaign tried to pin Galvin to the California Democrat.
Galvin pointed to the $300,000 in campaign funds she said Young has received from the health care industry as to why health care prices are so high in Alaska.
In his closing, Young noted what his experience has done for Alaskans, introducing 52 bills, including six in a committee, this year.
“All the freshmen have none,” he said. “Freshmen can’t do anything.”
Galvin conceded Young has done a lot of work in his 47 years in office, but it’s time for change especially when the country is at a crossroads.
“Do you want to have somebody in the room as an independent voice standing strongly up for Alaskans, or do you want to have somebody who’s in the hallway shouting that you’re all socialists?” she said.
Mark Thiessen, The Associated Press