Here are the people challenging Don Young for Alaska’s sole congressional seat

Note: This story has been updated to include Republican challenger Thomas "John" Nelson, who filed at the last minute and wasn't included in earlier versions. 

The race to be Alaska's sole congressional representative will see most of its action in the Democratic primary this year, with three Democrats and two independent candidates vying for the chance to take on, more likely than not, 45-year congressman Don Young.

Independents Alyse Galvin and Christopher Cumings and Democrats Carol Hafner and Dimitri Shein signed up for the Democratic primary, which allows non-Democrats to compete for the slot on the ballot this year. Young is also being challenged by Republican Thomas "John" Nelson, a financial adviser lives in the Mat-Su, and perennial candidate Jed Whittaker, who is running as a Republican this year.

Galvin, the independent, is the most financially viable candidate so far on the Democratic ballot. On Friday Galvin had just short of $200,000 on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission. She has spent about $84,000 since January.

Much of her funding comes from the Democratic-progressive online fundraising platform Act Blue. She also nabbed $4,000 from the campaign coffers of Steve Lindbeck for Alaska, Young's 2016 Democratic opponent, according to the FEC.

Galvin is an education advocate who most recently worked for Great Alaska Schools, though she has held a wide range of jobs in her life, according to her campaign biography. Her family first came to Alaska during World War II. She and her husband have four children.

Galvin's campaign focuses on bipartisan discourse and boosting economic opportunities for Alaska. She favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, expanding Arctic shipping and tourism and improving and expanding technical schools, according to her website.


Shein has more than $41,000 cash on hand and has spent about $20,000 according to the FEC. What is left in his campaign coffers is roughly equal to a cash infusion he offered the campaign from his personal funds.

Shein was born in Russia and immigrated to Alaska in 1993, when he was 12 years old. He and his wife, Melissa, met at West High School, according to his website. Melissa is Inupiaq and works as a physician. Shein is a CPA who worked for tribal governments and later started his own e-commerce company.

Shein said he is campaigning on "Medicare For All, ending corporate tax handouts and getting corporate money out of politics."

Hafner has reported no fundraising to the FEC, though she did file a notice of her candidacy. Hafner goes by "Kitty," and is a retired higher education administrator, former flight attendant and worked in the biotechnology industry, according to her campaign website. Hafner's campaign platform includes "Medicare for All," legalizing cannabis at the federal level and tuition-free college.

Cumings, of Ketchikan, also filed to run as a nonpartisan in the Democratic primary.

Young's campaign was in a comfortable financial position on Friday, with about $465,000 cash on hand, according to the FEC.

Young is running for his 24th term as the sole U.S. House representative for Alaska. He won the general election in 2016 with 50.3 percent of the vote against Democrat Steve Lindbeck (36 percent), Libertarian Jim McDermott (10.3 percent) and Independent Bernie Souphanavong (3 percent).

Young won the 2016 Republican primary with 71.5 percent of the vote, besting Stephen Wright (18.7 percent), Gerald Heikes (5.2 percent) and Jesse Tingley (4.6 percent).

Young is pro-gun, anti-abortion, and supports oil drilling and state and Native — rather than federal — control of Alaska's lands. His 2016 endorsements included the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, the Chamber of Commerce and the United Fishermen of Alaska.

Republican candidate Whittaker has not filed a notification with the FEC.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is a former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C.