ANCHORAGE - U.S. Rep. Don Young said he will seek a 17th term as Alaska's lone member in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Young, a Republican first elected in 1973, poses an enormous obstacle to anyone seeking the office.
"There will be someone who will replace me someday. The good Lord will reach down someday and pluck me up or the devil will reach up and grab me. I don't know which one it's going to be," he said. "As long as I stay well, I'm going to keep doing it."
Young, 70, has raised more than $1 million for the campaign. He has crushed opponents in recent elections, taking more than 60 percent of the vote.
So far, no one else has officially entered the race.
Young opened a press conference announcing his candidacy Tuesday by refuting rumors that he is considering leaving office because of his wife's health. He introduced his wife, Lu, who had what Young called a slight stroke Dec. 29.
"We're here as long as possible. I just want to let you know, the Youngs do not retire," Lu Young said. "There is nothing wrong with Mrs. Young."
Young, one of the highest-ranking House Republicans, chairs the House Transportation Committee. He said once his term as the head of that committee expires in 2006, he would be interested in other leadership positions, including speaker of the House.
Jim Duncan, a longtime Democratic state legislator from Juneau who ran against Young in 1998, said beating him is "difficult if not impossible."
"It's a very difficult seat to take away from Don Young. He's got the strength of the incumbency. He can raise money. ... He ignores his challengers. He relies solely on name recognition," Duncan said.
Duncan posed the last organized challenge to Young when he ran in 1998. The Democrat spent about $700,000 and took 35 percent of the vote in the election. In 2000, Democrat Clifford Greene took 17 percent of the vote.