Dunbar is running as a Democrat for Alaska’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Last week I was endorsed by the party,” he said.
But Dunbar doesn’t think Alaska’s right-leaning reputation will hurt his chances.
“It’s not a red state; it’s a purple state,” he said, “For me it’s not about Democrats or Republicans,”
Dunbar was not even born when his opponent, 40-year incumbent Don Young, first entered the House of Representatives.
Although Dunbar likes some of the legislation that Young proposes on behalf of Alaska, he argues it is time to replace the veteran lawmaker in D.C. He thinks the once-powerful Young has lost influence and committee chairmanships following his connection with the Coconut Grove land deals in Florida.
“Young proposes a lot of bills that will never get anywhere,” Dunbar said. “He’s never going to be that influential again.”
Describing himself as “a bit of a wonk,” Dunbar talked with Kodiak voters at length about land-use policy during his visit.
He thinks the federal government overreaches by owning as much land in Alaska as it does, and that the original intent of federal holdings based on precedents like the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was to dispose of federal land to other owners.
“If the government owned 68 percent of Pennsylvania, they would riot,” he said.
But Dunbar noted his vision of of how to use the land differs from that of Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration, which also opposes extensive control.
“I would like to see a lot of that land go to the Native tribes and the Native corporations,” he said.
He also talked about looking into energy sources other than oil.
“I think Alaska should be a leader in alternative energy,” he said.
On the budget woes in Congress, Dunbar said called the automatic cuts created by sequestration “dumb cuts” with bad results for the military and Coast Guard.
“They’re dumb cuts by design,” he said. “There are smart cuts we can make.”
He agrees in general with the need for a deepwater port in the Arctic, but said he has concerns about details in Young’s proposal for one.
Dunbar arrived in Kodiak from a campaign stop in Nome and left Sunday for Seward. He said he relishes the chance to meet Alaskans and see parts of the state he might not otherwise see.
“I think it’s going really well,” he said. “I have a great young staff.”
A native of Cordova, Dunbar said this first visit to Kodiak impressed him with the similarities to his home town.
Dunbar is an alum of Harvard and Yale with degrees in law and public policy. He served with the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan and is a reserve member of the U.S. Army judge advocate general corps.
“I’m a little bit of a workaholic,” said Dunbar. “I expect to live in my office.”
Before that, he hopes pressure from voters and local organizations like chambers of commerce will induce Young to agree to debate. Meanwhile, he plans to continue the campaign with a strategy of “aggressive traveling.”
“I can’t be anything but very upbeat about what’s going on,” he said.
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