Don Young won his first full congressional term back in 1974, with 51,641 votes. Since then, it’s been nothing but net for the longest-serving Republican in Congress.
In fact, since 1974 Young has chaulked up 2,961,632 general election votes from Alaskans, averaging 59.4 percent of the votes across the 23 times he has competed for his seat.
The list of people Young has beat in general elections could populate a small Alaska town of also-ran, ultra-liberals: Emil Notti, Willie Hensley, Eben Hopson, Pat Rodey, Kevin Parnell, Dave Carlson, Pegge Begich, Peter Gruenstein, John Devens (twice), Tony Smith, Georgiana Lincoln, Jim Duncan, Clifford Mark Greene, Thomas Higgins, Diane Benson, Ethan Berkowitz, Harry Crawford, Forrest Dunbar, and Steve Lindbeck. Also, a couple of dozen third-party candidates made valiant efforts across many of those years.
In 1984 and 1986, Young defeated Pegge Begich, 113,582 to 86,052, and 101,799 to 74,053 respectively.
In 1988 he beat Peter Gruenstein with 120,595.
In 1990 and 1992, he defeated then-Mayor of Valdez John Devens, 99,003 to 91,677 and 111,849 to 102,378.
Fast forward to 2010, when he beat down Harry Crawford in the general election, 175,384 to 77,606.
In 2012, Young defeated State Rep. Sharon Cissna, 185,296 to 82,927.
In 2014, he cut down Forrest Dunbar, 142,572 to 114,602.
And in 2016 he had a four-way race, but 125,729 Alaskans stuck with him, for more than 50 percent of the vote, to Lindbeck’s 90,784.
Since 2002, Young has been the top-getting vote goliath for statewide races.
And although contenders keep saying he’s too old to serve, or from another era, we take the Mark Twain view: News of Don Young’s fading glory is greatly exaggerated.
Rather, he seems to have run one of the best campaigns of his career this year, hitting the stride just right and keeping it positive to the very end.
Some pollsters just could not shoot straight, however.
Just three weeks prior to Nov. 8’s General Election, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had a poll that said Democratic challenger Steve Lindbeck was within two points of Rep. Young — 39 to 37 percent.
Lindbeck was on the attack with negative ads aimed at showing Young as not looking out for Alaskans and being calloused.
Pundits from the Alaska Left predicted that Lindback had a real shot at victory, but the tale of the tape went the other way: Young won 125,729 to Lindbeck’s 90,784, or 50 percent vs. 36 percent.
The Libertarian in the race, Jim McDermott, drained away 10 percent of Young’s likely voters, doubling his percentage points since he first ran for the seat in 2012.