Young to campaign more aggressively

Congressman faces tough fight against strong contenders

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's lone Congressman, Don Young, says he knows the race for Congress this year won't be easy.

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Young is facing a field of strong contenders for what would be his 19th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is also under federal investigation, although officials at the Department of Justice won't say why.

He's told supporters he will "be running as hard as you've ever seen me run."

During the past week, he held campaign events in Fairbanks, Wasilla, Kenai and Anchorage and pledged to be in Alaska every month for the rest of this year.

Republican Party of Alaska chairman Randy Ruedrich said "it's a higher level of real engagement than (Young has) had in a number of years."

Young faces state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Kodiak, in their party's primary.

The Democratic contenders for Alaska's congressional seat are former state House minority leader Ethan Berkowitz, ex-state Democratic Party chief Jake Metcalfe and Diane Benson, who received 40 percent of the vote when she ran against Young in 2006.

"This is not going to be an easy election," Young said at his meet and greet and fundraiser at the Sourdough Mining Company, an Anchorage restaurant.

Young said none of his challengers would be able to do the job better than he has.

"Anybody running for this job, ask them what they can do better than Don Young," he said.

Competitors say Young, who first went to Congress in 1973, has been in office long enough and it's time for change. At least two of them, Benson and Metcalfe, have focused on the federal investigation and argue it hurts Alaska's credibility.

Young, 74, has been under investigation for his ties to VECO Corp., for fundraising activities and for his role in specific congressional earmarks. He has not been charged with any crime.

Young has spent hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars on lawyers, but has not revealed what kind of legal work and advice that money is buying.

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