50 years ago today, voters went to polls to choose Don Young as their next congressman

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On October 16, 1972, Alaska was rocked with the news that Rep. Nick Begich, along with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, Begich’s aide Russell Brown, and pilot Don Jonz, had disappeared in a plane crash while traveling from Anchorage to Juneau. Despite extensive searches, the plane was never found, and the search was called off three weeks after the Nov. 7 election.

The state was left with a vacant seat in Congress, and in a special election held on March 6, 1973, voters chose Don Young, a Republican, to fill out the remainder of Begich’s term. Young defeated Democratic nominee Emil Notti with 51.41% of the vote.

Young went on to win a full term in 1974, defeating Democratic State Sen. Willie Hensley with 53.84% of the vote.

The tragic loss of Begich and his companions had a profound impact on Alaska politics and the state’s representation in Congress. Young served in Congress for the remainder of his life, a total of 49 years.

After Young’s death on March 18, 2022, a special election was held to fill the vacant seat. This time, a rural Native Alaskan, Mary Peltola, won the seat back for the Democrats, breaking a long-held Republican stronghold on the seat.

In the 2022 general election, Peltola managed to hang onto the seat with 51.5% of the vote, thanks to the new ranked-choice voting method of tabulating the winner. Peltola beat former Gov. Sarah Palin, as well as Rep. Nick Begich’s Republican grandson Nick Begich III, and Libertarian candidate Chris Bye.

Photo: Don Young, left, and Emil Notti, right

22 COMMENTS

  1. Good person. He is missed deeply by Alaskans like me. I remember Don Young at the 1980 Iditarod finish party in Nome. He was doing the hula hoop on stage at the celebration. I have pictures. I miss people like him in politics.

  2. But there’s more to this story. Don Young actually encouraged Nick Begich III to run for the congressional seat that Don was going to vacate. Then Don changed his mind. NB3 filed for the seat anyway in the fall of 2021, 49 years after his grandfather died in a mysterious plane crash. Six months later, the Spoiler, Sarah Palin, filed on April 1, 2022, 10 days after Don Young died. NB3 and Palin, both Republicans, split the vote and Peltola squeaked out a victory due to RCV. Blame the entire debacle on the biggest fraud and skalliwag liar in Alaska’s history………
    Sarah Palin.

    • “………Don Young actually encouraged Nick Begich III to run for the congressional seat that Don was going to vacate. Then Don changed his mind……..”
      That’s the story. I’m more inclined to believe that Don was joking, and a bunch of delusional RINOs ran with it. But, like usual, RINOs only run toward the direction of money, and they fell into the thorns such money fertilizes.

      • Sarah Palin waited until Don quit breathing and had both feet in the ground. Ten whole days. And then she announced on April Fools Day. Of course, the joke was on us……
        again.

  3. I remember Don Young at Seward’s Mount Marathon Race where he fired the starting gun, pow, we were off, Alaska’s oldest, most famous and enduring races that started in 1915.
    Shook hands with the congressman, , he had a tough grip, a man’s handshake.
    Palin gave us Peltola.

  4. Meanwhile, low voter participation allows this to happen. You don’t vote, you don’t get to b… complain.

    • On the contrary, we had record voting turnout. So many showed up in support of dems we had more voting than people that live here. And still the dems say there isn’t cheating. Lying to our faces.

      • So…………………..you thinking some nonresidents are voting in Alaska and only “dems” doing this? How about an example (or two) where there were more votes that “people that live here.” You may need to define what “live here” means in your vocabulary.

        • “…….you thinking some nonresidents are voting in Alaska……..”?
          Yup. I do. Among a host of other innovative tricks.

  5. Don Young was a unifier of the people throughout most of his career, despite his rough and sometimes brutish persona.

    I think that whether Mary Mary quite Constitutionally Contrary wins or loses her next contest , the result will be a more deeply divided Alaska than we’ve ever seen. The Demoncrats of today rely on promoting social and racial division to gain and hold power.

    Beyond the above, toss in their anti- science belief system of climate change and it’s scamfilled carbon credit schemes and you have the complete picture of the modern commie / Democrat party.

    What is even more disturbing is that personal identity politics have trumped all reason in the selection of candidates. Mary touts her qualifications as being the ” First female Alaskan Native” elected to Congress.
    But what qualifications beyond that does Mary actually have???

    What makes it even worse is that we had a candidate, who by every measure had solid , real world qualifications. A fellow named Nick.

    I lay this disaster at the feet of Sarah Palin. I hope her devoted fan club is paying attention. First she gave you Walker, now Mary. Own it, learn from it and please wise the flub up before 2024.
    RCV or not we didn’t have to have this predictable outcome. Stop making excuses and start THINKING and please vote accordingly.

  6. So it’s a secret which American village(s) have no food, commerce or industry allowed in them? Or roads. For more of the same the Delawarian and Marge urge a Democrat vote, forever.

  7. A funny thing, if you call the ak district six representative phone number to complain about what democrats have made this place into guess what you get? Check it out. SO Much incompetence and disrespect they can’t even figure out how to program their phone after three full months. ALASKA LAUGH ALONG SHILL SHOP. 90 days are up. Scram.

  8. So it’s a secret which American village(s) have no food, commerce or industry allowed in them? Or roads. For more of the same the Delawarian and Mary urge a Democrat vote, forever.

  9. 30+TRILLION DOLLARS later, we memorialize this transplanted Californian, King of the Earmarks. He never saw a Florida interchange he didn’t like.

  10. I am not so sure that Peltola won thanks to ranked choice voting. She had a plurality in the special general

    Begich, Nick REP 52,536 27.85%
    Palin, Sarah REP 58,339 30.92%
    Peltola, Mary S. DEM 74,817 39.66%

    and in the general general

    Begich, Nick REP 61,513 23.33%
    Bye, Chris LIB 4,570 1.73%
    Palin, Sarah REP 67,866 25.74%
    Peltola, Mary S. DEM 128,553 48.77%

    Under the old system, plurality wins.

    Suppose there had been a Republican primary. Sarah Palin probably would have won it, but Mary Peltola might well have won the general against one of the most unpopular politicians in Alaska history.

    The main way you can blame “ranked choice voting” is that it replaced a convention system, which is what chose both Emil Notti and Don Young in 1973. A 2022 Republican convention would probably have chosen Nick Begich III over Palin and others, and one-on-one he probably would have beaten whichever Democrat he was up against.

    • “The main way you can blame “ranked choice voting” is that it replaced a convention system……..”
      Agreed. In short, it was a strike and blow to the parties themselves, orchestrated at the Republican Party by RINOs in love with killing babies. Serial murderers on an industrial level. Like Nazis, but more efficient.

  11. Mary should be evaluated on the main issue facing our state. If the Willow Field receives approval with limited restrictions, Mary has done her job.
    Don was a great Alaskan. Alaska was blessed to him as our representative.

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