ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The two main candidates for Alaska’s sole U.S. House seat vowed Monday to work with whoever wins the presidential election to advance Alaska’s interests in resource development.
“I won’t be happy particularly with one of them being elected, and won’t be too happy with the other one,” said Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, without naming either presidential candidate.
Young, the longest serving Republican in the U.S. House, is seeking his 23rd term.
“I’ve worked with eight presidents, and I’ll work with a ninth president to make sure Alaska’s properly represented,” he said during a candidate forum in Anchorage.
His main challenger, Democrat Steve Lindbeck, said America really only has one choice for president, Hillary Clinton.
“We have one candidate that we know is completely unfit to be the president of the United States of America or to be our commander in chief,” Lindbeck said of Clinton’s challenger, without naming Republican Donald Trump.
“We’re going to need to make sure as Alaskans that we keep her accountable, that she can understand our needs in Alaska, that we will stand up to the Democratic party on some occasions where they don’t meet the needs of Alaska, particularly around oil and gas development and other resource issues,” Lindbeck said.
Another candidate at the forum, Libertarian Jim McDermott, wanted the Anchorage chamber audience to know there were other presidential candidates in the election besides Clinton and Trump.
“I haven’t officially heard that Gary Johnson has dropped out of the race, so I just wanted to let you know he might still be on there,” he quipped about the Libertarian presidential candidate, adding that Jill Stein of the Green Party will also appear on many state ballots.
“You do have choice,” he said. “Isn’t that awesome?”
During the hour-long forum, candidates introduced themselves and answered a series of questions.
Young touted his experience and leadership in the House, saying he’s passed 79 bills during his tenure.
But Lindbeck questioned why more hasn’t been done for Alaska’s interest, especially in the last two decades.
“With respect to Congressman Young, his party has been running Congress in both houses for most of the last 20 years, and we still don’t have ANWR. We still don’t have a gas line. We still have a timber industry going down. We don’t have sufficient broadband access across Alaska,” he said. “We don’t have ice breakers. We have not renewed the Magnuson-Stevens (fishers) Act. We don’t have a Law of the Sea treaty we need.”
Young said he’s passed a bill to open ANWR, or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to drilling 12 times in the House. The bill stalled 11 times in the Senate. And the only time it did pass both bodies, President Bill Clinton vetoed the measure in 1995.
Lindbeck said he supports both offshore drilling and along refuge’s coastal plain.