- Associated Press - Saturday, August 13, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - After more than 40 years in Congress, Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young says he’s still up to the task, casting himself as a skilled and effective lawmaker who continues to deliver for Alaska.

He faces a Democratic challenger, Steve Lindbeck, who says it’s time for a change.

Neither Young nor Lindbeck faces major opposition in their respective party primaries Tuesday.

Young, the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House, is seeking his 23rd term. He hasn’t faced a major primary challenge since 2008, when he eked out a win over then-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell.

Young cited his seniority, relationships and understanding of the political process in an emailed response to questions from The Associated Press. He said his committee assignments put him in a position to steer the conversation and policies affecting Alaska.

“It would take years, if not decades, for someone else to be able to achieve that in the House,” he said.

Lindbeck, a former newspaper editor and CEO of Alaska Public Media, said Young’s service should be respected but the senior Republican doesn’t wield the influence he should.

“I believe that there’s a need and an opportunity for leadership. And here I am,” Lindbeck said in an interview.

Both Young and Lindbeck are frustrated with the gridlock in Washington, D.C.

Young said committee members used to work together, across party lines, to produce bills that would address a problem. Now, many bills are written in the speaker’s office or by party leadership, without getting bipartisan support, he said. That problem began in the mid-1990s, under a Republican speaker, and “grew tenfold” in the late 2000s under a Democratic speaker, he said. It must be fixed, he said.

In ending earmarks, Young said Congress ceded control to the president, a move he says has done little or nothing to reduce federal spending and added hurdles for states with one congressman, like Alaska, to get money for projects. Still, he said he has been effective in securing funding and provisions important to Alaska.

Lindbeck said he has a reputation for working with people to get things done and thinks the desire nationally for change could work in his favor.

“Treating people with respect and listening and doing the legislative work that’s in front of us as opposed to simply the partisan work that seems to be occupying so many people - that’s what Americans and Alaskans have a right to expect,” Lindbeck said.

Lindbeck acknowledges incumbents have a fundraising advantage but believes his campaign can be competitive. He raised more money than Young during the last quarter.

Regardless of his opponent, Young said he has run every election the same, by standing on his record. His primary challengers are little-known candidates Stephen Wright, Gerald Heikes and Jesse “Messy” Tingley.

The other Democrats running are William “Bill” Hibler and Lynette “Moreno” Hinz. The Libertarian candidates are Jim McDermott and Jon Watts.

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