Decades-long Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young faces two GOP candidates in the Aug. 18 primary. 

JOHN NELSON

Nelson, of Chugiak, was born and raised in Alaska. 

He raised three children in Chugiak with his wife, Dawn. They live in Wasilla, where he settled in 2018. 

Nelson’s political areas of focus include federal overreach and working against large government, maintaining health care and insurance choice within the industry, and lowering the cost of living for seniors. 

“Restoring the core principles of the Constitution is my top priority. We must reduce federal overreach and restore sovereignty to the state of Alaska while preserving our culture and heritage for future generations,” Nelson wrote on his campaign website.

Nelson, 55, ran for the same seat and lost in 2018. At the time, he said he had voted for Young in previous elections but felt that Alaska deserved some younger representation.

He hopes to bridge a political discourse of division he sees as an issue in Washington, D.C. 

GERALD HEIKES

Heikes, 67, is from Palmer and has lived much of his life in Alaska. 

This is not Heikes’ first foray into the world of politics. He ran for U.S. House in 2016, Alaska governor in 2018, 2014, 2010 and 2006, and U.S. Senate in 2008.

In his campaign for governor in 2018, he took a strong stance against current policies governing public education and criticized the absence of religion in schools, claiming the lack of Christianity created “brain-dead liberal” high school graduates. 

Heikes also supported the complete defunding of all nonprofits until the state budget can be balanced, a position he has carried to his campaign for federal office. 

“Start by eliminating every program and/or government subsidies to other countries (foreign aid). No more giving money to people that hate the U.S. and don’t appreciate what is given. Eliminate all funding to nonprofits, especially abortion agencies like Planned Parenthood. Eliminate government agencies such as the EPA and the Department of Energy,” Heikes wrote in a recent response to a Daily News-Miner candidate survey question. 

The candidate also referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus” and proposed charging the cost of the virus to the debt the U.S. owes China “through former sellouts by U.S. congressmen and presidents.”

DON YOUNG

Young, 87, has served as the only U.S. representative for Alaska since 1973. 

He was born in Meridian, California, later earning his associate degree at Yuba Junior College in 1952 and his bachelor’s degree in education at Chico State College in 1958. He also served in the Army’s 41st Tank Battalion from 1955 to 1957.

Young taught in Fort Yukon before being elected mayor of the city for one term. He later was elected to the state House and then the state Senate before moving up to the U.S. Congress. 

The 24-term congressman has sparked controversy over the years, threatening a former Republican House Speaker John Boehner with a knife on the House floor, comparing LGBTQ individuals to bestiality and this year referring to COVID-19 as the “beer virus” before backtracking on the statement and supporting federal aid to states during the pandemic. 

Young is a staunch supporter of resource development and fought in the House to open the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration and development. He is a strong believer in states’ rights and has long defended the ability for Alaska to govern its own legal marijuana industry.

Whoever wins will face the victor of the three-way Democratic primary in the race to represent the entire state of Alaska in the U.S. House.

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