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Politicians line up to take on Rep. Young
Anchorage Daily News


October 11, 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska Congressman Don Young, under federal investigation and in the minority party in the U.S. House, is facing more competition for his seat than he has had in a decade.

Ethan Berkowitz, former minority leader of the Alaska state House, and Kodiak state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux both said this week they are entering next year's U.S. House race.

LeDoux plans to challenge Young in the Republican primary. Berkowitz joins a Democratic field that already includes former state Democratic party chief Jake Metcalfe and Diane Benson, who received 40 percent of the vote against Young in 2006.

Young welcomes the competition, said his campaign manager, Steve Dougherty. He said Young is absolutely planning to run for re-election and is fully engaged in his campaign.

The 74-year-old Young has been Alaska's sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1973. Young has so long been a leading figure in Alaska politics that often he has often faced only token opposition. That is not the case this time around.

"He's a wounded bear," Metcalfe said.

Young, who chaired the powerful House Transportation Committee from 2000 to 2006, now serves as the ranking Republican on the House Resources Committee. He says he's still plenty effective in Congress, and doesn't see himself as vulnerable in the 2008 election.

Various national news organizations have reported in recent weeks that Young is under federal investigation for his ties to Veco Corp., for fundraising activities and for his role in specific congressional earmarks. Young has repeatedly declined to discuss the investigation.

He reported spending $262,137 in attorney fees from his campaign treasury during the first six months of this year. Young still has far more campaign money than any of his challengers, with more than $1.6 million cash on hand listed on his June 30 campaign disclosure report, the latest available.

National Democrats will be keeping a close eye on the primary as well as gearing up for the general election battle against the Republican nominee.

"Democrats are extremely high on this seat," said Doug Thornell, national press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

"We view this seat as a prime pickup opportunity."


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