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Rep. Don Young (R-AK) is not the type to back down without a fight. Or even without an unnerving display of belligerence. Remember his threat to bite another lawmaker "very much like the mink in my state that kill their own."
It seems recently that the whole world is against him. During this past weekend's state Republican convention, Young was blindsided when Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell announced that he would be running in the Republican primary. Parnell is an ally of the popular and pregnant Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, who's defined herself in opposition to the old guard of Alaskan politics, namely Young and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), the Bridge to Nowhere team.
Young was already an unhappy lawmaker before that surprise. But he's clearly determined to make his case to voters on his merits: namely, on his remarkable earmarking abilities. In his speech this past weekend (during which the above picture was taken), Young defended bringing pork home to the state, proclaiming that "there hasn't been a state community that hasn't come to me and Sen. Stevens to ask for an earmark," and: "If you don't want earmarks, then don't ask me for them."
What Young's campaign is not based on is disclosure and transparency. That was made abundantly clear during his press conference last month, during which he testily rebuffed question after question. (Strike "change," too, a word he uttered with disgust.) You can see the highlights here:
Young has refused to comment at all on why he's spent more than $850,000 on defense lawyers. Is he under investigation for his ties to Veco? to Jack Abramoff? Other areas of interest? Not telling. How many jurisdictions are you being defended in? "I have no idea." (You can see the whole session here.) A taste:
Young said his constituents have not asked him about the legal fees. It's just the media, he said.
A television reporter objected that, as an Alaskan and a voter, he was a constituent.
"Did you vote for me last time?" Young asked him.
"No sir," the reporter replied.
Young was no more forthcoming on questions about his infamous Coconut Road earmark: whether he managed to change the text of a bill after it was passed by Congress in order to benefit a major campaign contributor.
When a reporter tried to inquire about the "changes," he responded in a raised voice, "I don't know what changes you're talking about, and I'm not going to discuss those changes." When the reporter pressed, he got, "I have no idea, I have no idea" for an answer. When he continued to pres, he got: "And that's it. I'm not going to discuss it any more. If you have any other questions along those lines, you can just forget it."
Young, who's convinced that The Anchorage Daily News is on a vendetta against him (remind you of a certain senator?), canceled a press conference the next day when he learned that ADN reporters would be present.
It's going to be a fun campaign. Young refers to one of his Democratic challengers, Jake Metcalfe, as Jake the Snake. And it didn't take him long to lash out at his primary opponent, Parnell, who's father, running as a Democrat, lost to Young in 1980. "Sean, congratulations," Young told the convention this weekend, "I%