Rep. Don Young has served in Congress for 25 terms

Rep. Don Young, who has served in Congress for 25 terms, has a GOP challenger with a familiar name.

Nick Begich III, whose grandfather once held Alaska’s only U.S. House seat, is challenging long-time incumbent Rep. Don Young in the 2022 Republican primary.

The primary campaign pits Begich, a 44-year-old newcomer to politics, against Young, who at 88 is the oldest and longest-serving member in Congress.

Begich is a Republican businessman who comes from a political dynasty of Democrats in Alaska. He is the nephew of state Sen. Tom Begich, the Senate minority leader, and of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, who also served as the mayor of Anchorage. He is the grandson of Nick Begich, who was serving in the U.S. House in 1972 when the small plane he was traveling in disappeared over Alaska.

Nick Begich was headed to a campaign event in Juneau. No trace of the plane or its occupants, who included the U.S. House Majority Leader, was ever found.

Young won a special election to Congress in 1973 after Begich’s seat was declared vacant. Young has won every U.S. House election since.

Young is in his 25th term in Congress. His priority issues are healthcare reform, defense, education and natural resources, among others. He founded the Cannabis Caucus, which supports federal legalization of marijuana.

Begich has said at campaign events that Alaska needs new energy and that his family’s political background as Democrats does not influence him.

His GOP activism has included working for Young’s office. Begich said that he has great respect for the incumbent but that Alaska needs a new generation of leaders.

Contact Linda F. Hersey at 907-459-7575 or at lhersey@newsminer.com. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.

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