Rep. Don Young reveals his choice for president

Rep. Don Young shared some frank thoughts about the Democratic presidential candidates -- and Donald Trump -- and revealed his presidential pick in an interview on "The Dave Stieren Show" this week.

Until now, Young, a Republican, wouldn't answer questions about who he wants to see capture his party's nomination for president, or how he feels about the divisive front-runner, Donald Trump.

But Young told Stieren on KFQD 103.7 that for now, he is a fan of Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

"He's probably the most qualified to be president," Young said of Kasich, with whom he served in Congress from 1983 to the start of 2001.

"He's got a great head" on him, Young said, crediting Kasich, former chairman of the House Budget Committee, with a the balanced budgets that came during his last few years in Congress. "He's been a great governor, a good soul, a family man," Young said. "Everything going for him."

But Kasich has no chance of winning the delegate count outright: He has 143 delegates, and only 943 were remaining as of Saturday. A Republican nominee needs 1,237 to clinch the party's nomination. (Trump on Saturday had 736 delegates, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had 463.)

Kasich "just unfortunately doesn't have the charisma to get people ginned up because they're not thinking anymore," Young told Stieren on the show. "And that concerns me the most. But he's the one who should have gotten the nomination."


Young noted that he previously supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

"I served with his old man, and I knew … how good he is. But he never got off first base," Young said. Bush dropped out of the race in February.

Young, 82, has been in office since 1973 and is up for election this year.

And he had dire warnings for listeners: "This is the most crucial election, as far as I am concerned, in the direction for this state and the nation will ever face."

Young said that potential Democratic presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. -- and "progressives" generally -- "don't want individualism."

That means the "government controlling everything you do … Everybody will be under some form of government mandate to do this, this or this," and that includes "when to get up, what to eat, what you're thinking, what school you're gonna go to and what you're going to be," Young said.

He continued: "They don't want entrepreneurship … You can't think on your own … And whatever they do, whatever you do to benefit yourself has to go to Uncle Sam. And it's the basis of total socialism, and that's what they really want to do," Young said.

Sanders, who describes himself as a democratic socialist but caucuses with Democrats in the Senate and is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, won Alaska's closed primary by a landslide last week, besting Clinton with 81 percent of the vote.

"No disrespect to anybody that voted for him," Young said. But "no one understands that someone has to make money … His argument is, we're going to take it away from everybody. Well then, who's going to run the shop? The shop is run by the government," Young said. "Now, he believes in that, that's his right. But it isn't good for this state."

Young added: "Now, we're sort of used to it, because we've lived off oil money for 35 years, and in doing so we forgot that you have to have an exertion of effort to take and receive a benefit from. So we started spending because we have the largesse of the oil companies and the federal government, and now we're in a box. So that'll happen to the nation too."

When it comes to Alaska, Young said he has faith that Kasich would be on the state's side. He noted the governor's support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge when he was in Congress: "And so I have more confidence … he will listen. I'm not so sure of anybody else listening."

That sentiment was not limited to Sanders and Clinton.

"I can guarantee … Hillary Clinton, Sanders, even Trump to some degree: They don't understand where real wealth comes from. Real wealth comes from resource development," Young said.

Listen to the whole interview here:

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is Alaska Dispatch News' Washington, DC reporter, and she covers the legislation, regulation and litigation that impact the Last Frontier.  Erica came to ADN after years as a reporter covering energy at POLITICO. Before that, she covered environmental policy at a DC trade publication and worked at several New York dailies.