Representative Don Young was on the campaign trail Tuesday in Soldotna. He spoke at a joint meeting of the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce.
The Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives doesn’t much bother with warming up the crowd at this point.
“You know my MO. I’ll make about a five minute presentation, no written words, and then hopefully you’ll have some questions, ideas, suggestions.”
Young first touched on a long-sought after goal of his, the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
“We’re doing well in Washington D.C. A lot of people say what’s Trump ever done? I've never really cared who the president is. If Congress does their job, any president can do their job. But he’s helped me very much. We’ve got ANWR now.”
And, he says the rest of the state’s natural resources should be on tap as well. When it comes to the AK LNG project, Young is a supporter, of course, but not necessarily a believer.
“I will be right up front with you. It’s not as bright as some people may think it is because of the surplus of gas we have in the Lower 48 now. Our fuel is very, very expensive. But I hope it will be developed, you’ll have your plant rebuilt here on the Kenai Peninsula. But don’t count just on the gas line. There’s other sources of power in this state that should be developed with it.”
Young has been an unlikely ally to the state’s growing cannabis industry, taking its side from a state’s rights bent as much as anything else. He says despite more states legalizing recreational cannabis use, he doesn’t see much of a change from the Trump administration, even as some of his former colleagues, like former House Speaker John Boehner go to work as lobbyists for cannabis.
“Bless his heart. It shows how times change. He was adamantly opposed to it," Young said of Boehner's new job. "My position has always been that’s a state issue. And you can’t bank under federal law. And that’s unfair, because (if) you want to have problems, have a lot of loose money running around. And want to have them run as a business, as licensed by the state. On the federal level, I’m trying to change the banking laws so they can utilize the banks for loans and deposits. Otherwise I think you’re causing real problems. But (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions isn’t going anywhere on this, I can just about guarantee you that.”
Young is the only Republican who has filed to run in the state’s primary in August, while Dimitri Shein and Alyse Galvin will square off in the Democratic primary. The deadline to file is June 1st. The 85 year old won his 21st reelection campaign in 2016.