ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Seeking a 26th term in the U.S. House, Alaska's lone representative will face a challenger in 2022 with strong name recognition in the state.
Nicholas Begich III has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to challenge U.S. Rep. Don Young's hold on the state’s sole seat in the U.S. House.
Young is only the fourth person to hold the seat since statehood and won it in a special election a year after Begich’s grandfather, U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, was declared dead after his plane went missing while flying to Juneau in 1972.
But unlike his grandfather and uncles former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and current state Sen. Tom Begich, all Democrats, Nicholas Begich III is a Republican.
“I think what I’ve been hearing from Alaskans is they’re ready to look forward, into the future,” the 44-year-old Begich told Alaska Public Media.
Young, 88, seemed unfazed by Begich's entry into the race.
“I’m running hard and I’m running to win. Anyone is free to file, but the question is, who can best represent Alaska?" he said in an email to The Associated Press on Monday.
“I’ve always welcomed challengers to the race, but I have the experience and know-how to continue getting things done for Alaska,” said Young, who filed candidacy papers with the state elections office in April.
“Alaskans deserve effective representation in Congress, and I will work hard as I’ve always done to secure another term," he said.
Begich also has close ties to Young, serving as a chairman of the congressman’s campaign in 2020, when Young defeated independent Alyse Galvin.
Begich has hired Truman Reed to be his campaign manager. Reed was Young’s campaign manager in 2020 and has worked in Young’s congressional office.
“I have hundreds of former staffers from my years of service to our state. It is unfortunate that these two did not want to be part of the winning team this time around,” said Young, who is the longest serving Republican in the U.S. House and the last remaining member to have served during the President Richard Nixon era.
Begich lives in Chugiak and is executive director of a software development company. His grandmother, Pegge Begich, lost twice to Young in the 1980s.
Others who have filed for the House seat with either the Alaska Division of Elections or the federal commission are Randy Purham, Gregg Brelsford and Shannon Scott Evans, all Republicans, and Chris Bye, a Libertarian. No Democrats have filed for the office.
A voter initiative passed last year calls for a single primary ballot, with the top four vote-getters advancing to the general election. Ranked-choice voting would be used for general elections.