Crawford runs lean, old-school campaign

October 27, 2010 

U.S. Rep. Don Young, right, and his Democratic challenger, State Rep. Harry Crawford share a laugh after debating one another in Fairbanks Oct. 25, 2010.

JOHN WAGNER / FAIRBANKS DAILY NEWS-MINER VIA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Harry Crawford is frustrated because no one seems to paying attention to the race for Alaska's sole seat in the U.S. House, which has been overshadowed by the Senate race.

Crawford is the latest in a long line of Democrats trying to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Young, 77, who is seeking his 20th two-year term in Congress this November and who already has served notice he'll run again in 2012.

Crawford, 58, chalks it up to voter fatigue after so many Democrats rallied hard for President Obama in 2008.

"That took a lot out of a lot of people," Crawford told The Associated Press recently by cell phone while taking a break during a drive to Fairbanks to campaign. "It was hard getting people to get energized, you know, to get into it."

A contentious Senate race doesn't help either. The Senate battle between Republicans Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Scott McAdams is taking most of the headlines.

And Crawford doesn't know how to change that, with only days before the election.

"I'm only able to do what I can do," said Crawford, who lives in Anchorage with his wife. They have four children.

"Something would have had to have happened. Some sort of lightning had to strike to make it that kind of a high-profile race," Crawford said.

And he has to do it on a shoestring. His campaign has raised just over $200,000, triple what he's ever raised for a state House campaign but just a drop in the bucket compared to the millions being spent on the Senate race.

"I was never going to have a campaign where I raised huge amounts of money. I don't have that kind of name recognition," Crawford said.

While short on cash, Crawford said he knows how to beat the streets, just as he's done in five successful state House races, campaigning person-to-person and running the TV, radio and print ads "I'm able to afford." Crawford has represented an East Anchorage district in the House since January 2001.

He was born in Shreveport, La., and came to Alaska to be an iron worker in the heady days of building the trans-Alaska pipeline.

"When I came up the highway to Alaska, I didn't have much of anything," Crawford said. "I just had a lot of enthusiasm. I was young and strong, and I was ready for whatever came up."

He said there was so much opportunity and excitement in Alaska. "It was all about, 'What can you do?' Because everybody needed help," he said. "I would like to get back to that sort of excitement for my kids, for your kids, our grandkids, so we have opportunities for Alaskans."

He says he's committed to constructing an Alaska natural gas pipeline using as much American steel as possible, reducing the dependence on foreign energy imports, financially encouraging companies to develop value-added industries, bringing manufacturing back to the United States to create jobs, developing Alaska's renewable resources and reducing involvement in foreign conflicts.

"This is the future here. What we're lacking is leadership," said Crawford, who vows to work with both parties if elected. "We've had 38 years of Don Young and Ted Stevens, and we can't continue to do the same old things and expect a different outcome."

Crawford is certainly not daunted by Young's years in office or his political resume.

He's taken on a political giant before, and won.

In his first bid to the Alaska House a decade ago, he upset a legend of Alaska politics, former Speaker Ramona Barnes, after being told he couldn't win.

"It's the same deal with Don Young," Crawford said,

"He is not representing me, he's not representing Alaskans in the way I want to be represented, and I think a huge number of people out there would vote against Don Young if they were sure they had a viable candidate to take his place," Crawford said.

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