Update: 11:47 p.m.
Alaska Congressman Don Young made a triumphant entrance to Election Central in Anchorage just before 11pm.
“It’s God’s will and the people of Alaska that support me. If they do, we win; if they don’t, I don’t win,” he told the crowd, as supporters waved his yellow campaign signs.
The mood at challenger Alyse Galvin’s campaign party was more restrained. She hadn’t made a concession speech by 11 p.m., though the writing was on the wall, and aides began setting up a lectern for her to address her supporters.
“I’m grateful,” she said earlier in the evening. “We’ve had an incredible 10 months together.”
Young, the most senior member of Congress, grabbed 53 percent of the vote early in the evening and his lead held steady all night, climbing to 54 percent with four-fifths of the precincts had reported.
Galvin, assuming her loss holds, would meet the same fate that has met 20 Democratic nominees before her, stretching back to 1973.
Alaska’s lone member of the U.S. House Representatives, Don Young, has a sizable lead over first-time candidate Alyse Galvin.
He had almost 53 percent of the vote to her 47 percent. The votes are from across the state. They include early and absentee ballots, as well as 67 percent of precincts.
Galvin is the 21st Democratic nominee who has tried to unseat Young since he was first elected in 1973. She’s a public education advocate from Anchorage and isn’t registered with any political party, but she ran in the Democratic primary and won. She raised a lot of money – almost $1.5 million. Nearly all of it was from individual contributors.
Young, 85, raised a bit more than $1 million, with about 46 percent of that from Political Action Committees. But he has an advantage that’s worth more than piles of campaign cash: after 45 years in office, Young has great name recognition. He has been a steadfast advocate of resource development in Alaska.
At a rally in Anchorage on Sunday, he railed against “socialism” and the reach of the federal government, which he says has gone too far into people’s personal lives.
“I’m part of the federal government and I’m part of the problem many times, because, very frankly, we’ve sometimes funded things we should not have funded,” he said.
Galvin, 53, was a relative unknown. She traveled the state in an RV, and by air, to introduce herself. She says more than a thousand volunteers helped put the word out by knocking on doors and working the phones. She’s told voters she’s for keeping health care coverage and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. She’s pointed to Young’s record and more than 50 votes he took to overturn the Affordable Care Act.