It would be hard to exaggerate Don Young's commanding position in Alaska's sole congressional race.
While the 28-year Republican incumbent and powerful committee chairman has raised about $1.13 million for his campaign, Democratic nominee Clifford Mark Greene had net receipts of $290 by Sept. 30, according to federal election reports.
That's a margin of 3,888 to 1.
Three minor party candidates also are struggling to make their voices heard.
Only once has the incumbent interacted with any of his challengers, calling in to an Anchorage radio program last month. A televised debate in Anchorage lacked both major party nominees, as Greene, who operates his campaign out of Juneau, couldn't afford to travel. Young chose not to.
"I've never even seen Don Young," Greene said today.
Young and his campaign staff could not be reached for comment this week by telephone or e-mail, while Congress found itself in budget gridlock with President Clinton.
"It's time for the president to quit pressing for more ridiculous Washington spending," Young said in a news release on his congressional Web site.
Young, 67, of Fort Yukon, is the 16th-ranking member of the House and chairman of the House Resources Committee, and is a leading critic of the energy and environmental policies of the Clinton administration.
Greene, an unemployed paralegal who moved to Alaska in May, has complained Young is "overconfident and arrogant," openly discussing what he will do in the next Congress.
"I think a lot of people in Alaska don't think politicians should have their offices for life," Greene has said.
Greene, 46, says he has run unsuccessfully for public office three times before, in Michigan and Minnesota. He said he had visited Alaska while in the U.S. Coast Guard in the 1970s. Before moving briefly to Ketchikan this year, he was living in California, he said.
Greene faults the Republican-led Congress for blocking national health insurance and supports federal action to create more affordable housing. On resource extraction, he parts company with Democratic Vice President Al Gore, supporting some drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
"I think we need to find a balance" between industry and the environment, Greene said.
Green Party candidate Anna C. Young of Seward is the unabashed environmentalist in the race, although she worries that Greene being listed first on the ballot could be a point of confusion. But her positions on issues certainly can't be confused with the incumbent named Young.
The 55-year-old grandmother is a commercial fisherman who says she never recovered financially from the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, an incident that galvanized her politically. She has protested plutonium shipments to Japan and was arrested last year while trying to block an offshore drilling project in Alaska's Arctic.
Young said she hopes to place second or third in the race "to scare the hell out of our delegation."
Meanwhile, Alaskan Independence Party candidate Jim Dore of Anchorage is running hard to Don Young's right.
Dore, 49, an aircraft mechanic and former pipeline worker, ran as a Republican against Young in 1996 and 1998. He has concluded "it's basically a two-party, one-policy system in Washington, D.C." Continued funding for agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts, which Dore contends is unconstitutional, demonstrates Republicans haven't made a difference, he said.
Dore said Young has compromised occasionally on his pro-gun and pro-life positions. And the incumbent's land conservation bill amounts to an unconstitutional confiscation of property, he said. "I'm tired of being represented by a guy who breaks his oath of office as often as Don Young does."
Libertarian candidate Leonard J. Karpinski of Anchorage, 43, a design engineer, wants to end the income tax, the Federal Reserve System, mandatory Social Security and the war on drugs. Like Anna Young, he supports the legalization of marijuana, but like Jim Dore, he opposes all gun control legislation and wants the United States to withdraw from the United Nations.
Don Young, to date, has been content to rely on his statement in the official election pamphlet. "It's vital that Alaska be represented by a proven leader who has continually been successful for the people in every region of our state," he wrote. "Alaska has a bright future better than any other state in the nation."
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