Cissna will challenge Young for U.S. House

Mark Thiessen | Associated Press

Sharon Cissna, a state House Democrat from Anchorage, will try to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Young in the November election.

Young easily won his Republican primary Tuesday against two little-known GOP challengers. Cissna emerged from a field of five Democrats, who all struggled to raise cash and awareness of their message.

Young, who is seeking his 21st term as Alaska's sole U.S. House member, was leading with 79 percent of the vote with 82 percent of the vote counted and wasn't challenged by fellow Republicans John R. Cox and Terre Gales.

Young, as usual, spent election night at his home in remote Fort Yukon.

However, he said in statement that he was "both humbled and honored by the overwhelming level of support shown by Alaskans tonight."

In the Democratic primary, Cissna was winning with 44 percent of the vote. Matt Moore was second with 19 percent and Debra Chesnut, third with 14 percent.

Cissna said she intends to focus the coming campaign on issues and discussion of the ills plaguing the nation, such as poor performance in education and healthcare, and helping small business to start up.

"I don't want to play the normal game," she said. "I don't want to be fighting against an adversary because if I were to win, Don Young would be my constituent. I don't want to fight anybody. I want to be working to solutions," she said.

Besides having huge name recognition, Young also enjoys a wide cash advantage. As of Aug. 8, Young had more than $584,000 cash on hand and has been raising money since. Cissna filed no campaign finance reports, and said she has loaned her campaign money.

Dr. Ronald Glaeser, an Anchorage orthodontist, said Young keeps winning easily over the years because he's effective.

"He's been there a long time. He knows the ins and outs," said Glaeser, a Republican supporter of Young, after voting Tuesday. "We need some experience from Alaska to give our viewpoint."

In his statement, Young said he believes Alaska "needs someone who will stand up and fight for this state - and as long as I have the fire to serve, I believe I am the best person for the job."

There was more competition on the Democratic side, with the challengers vying to become the first from their party to hold the office since 1973.

The other Democrats in the race were Doug Urquidi and Frank Vondersaar. All struggled to raise funds and get traction for their campaigns.

Cissna was the best known among them, mainly for her fight with the Transportation Security Administration. Last year, the breast cancer survivor refused a pat-down at a Seattle airport and went through a variety of modes of transportation to get back to Alaska. She rails against the agency.

But it's her legislative experience that prompted a vote from Jane Meacham of Anchorage.

"I think she has experience and is about the only one who can beat Don Young," Meacham said.

Moore, who owns a medical consulting business in Anchorage, raised the most money among the Democrats - more than $37,000. Chesnut, who runs her husband's dental practice and has a coffee hut in Fairbanks, had raised less than half that.

Bridget Milligan, a Democrat from Juneau, said she hadn't paid much attention to the U.S. House race. She said she voted for a Democratic woman, and had to think when asked who she voted for. "Chesnut," she said.

Larry Davis, who said he is not affiliated with any political party but leans Democratic, said he has "kind of" followed the race, but judging from past years, figures he knows how it ultimately will end up. Young is seeking his 21st term this year.

Voting for a Democrat, he said, is merely "expressing an opinion."

"You just come in and you vote and it's the same old thing year after year," he said.

Davis said he voted for Cissna, saying he was somewhat familiar with her record and less familiar with the other Democratic candidates.

Also in the November general election will be Libertarian Jim C. McDermott.

Associated Press