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Don Young and challenger Alyse Galvin debate natural resources, social issues and COVID-19 response

  • Author: Aubrey Wieber
  • Updated: October 24, 2020
  • Published October 23, 2020

In their first televised debate on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Don Young and challenger Alyse Galvin worked hard to contrast themselves from each other, peppering each other with jabs.

Young, 87, touted his 47 years of experience, saying he remains effective and knows how to get the U.S. Congress to work for Alaska’s benefit. Galvin, 55, while at times commending Young’s work in the past, said he’s lost his touch and Alaska needs a new representative in Washington, D.C.

The hourlong debate was hosted by Alaska Public Media and Alaska’s News Source.

The topics ranged from rural Alaska to natural resources to uniting a divided country. It started out with several questions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the federal response could be improved.

Galvin, an independent running with the Democratic nomination, said the federal CARES Act was a good start, but criticized Young for not voting for a subsequent bill pushed by House Democrats.

“I would vote for anything that puts more help to Alaskans right now,” Galvin said.

Young said the bill Galvin was referring to — the Heroes Act — spent money the federal government doesn’t have, and that most of it went to “New York, LA, Chicago and all the bad cities.”

“Until we start producing real wealth again, we run a risk of running into inflation,” Young said. “That scares me probably more than anything else. The pandemic’s bad, but inflation would be worse.”

When asked about natural resource development, both candidates endorsed diversifying Alaska’s energy portfolio. Young said the state is too reliant on oil, and should look at expanding hydro and geothermal energy production.

“Energy is the key to a free society,” Young said.

Galvin said it’s time for someone else to talk about renewable energy in Washington. She also said there is still more to be done with oil.

“Let’s make sure that while it’s marketable, Alaska gets as much as we can with that,” Galvin said.

The candidates, who also ran against each other in 2018, at times took personal shots at each other. Young questioned how Galvin could say she is pro-Second Amendment when her daughter, who heads up communications for her campaign, posted on social media about gun control.

When Young asked Galvin about her stance on the Second Amendment, he referred to her as “Alice.” She quickly corrected him, and he apologized. Galvin moved on to voice support for gun rights.

Galvin often brought up Young’s lengthy time in Congress, something he called age discrimination.

Each said the other lied in their campaign ads.

While much of the debate was Alaska-focused, some questions looked at the nation as a whole, including social issues like race, policing and hyper-partisanship.

Neither voiced support to defund police: Young said there needs to be a strong, well-trained police force, and Galvin said she would support better funding police departments.

Young said police feel they are unable to step in and control “rioting” in cities around the country, and said that the community needs to step up and support them to avoid anarchy.

Galvin said she supports the right to a peaceful protest, but “I don’t support the looting and rioting that’s happening, absolutely not, those people need to be held accountable."

The candidates will hold their final debate on Tuesday, hosted by the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.