Don Young: the Kodiak Bear of Capitol Hill (Video)
He’s flouted ethics rules. Twisted a staffer’s arm. Even allegedly threatened a life, telling his Democratic challenger this fall that the last person to touch him “ended up on the ground dead” — a fact he told CQ Roll Call there was “some truth” to.
And yet, for 20 elections now, voters in Alaska have sent him back to Washington, D.C.
Rep. Don Young, the House’s longest-serving Republican, has survived more than four decades in Congress despite a reputation for being ornery, aggressive — and maybe even a little unstable.
In many ways, his confrontational style fits the personality of his far-flung state. Young’s press secretary, Matt Shuckerow, said Alaskans face some of the most severe difficulties in the country, and they count on Young to be a “loud voice.”
But at what point does the “Last Frontier” mentality become too much — even for the Last Frontier?
Young isn’t shy about his abrasive style. He told CQ Roll Call last week that most other folks on Capitol Hill are “cookie cutters.” He said while he’s always been himself, it’s rare his colleagues actually believe in their actions. “It’s all done for that TV camera,” he said.
As for himself, he’s “a big teddy bear” — up to a point.
“As long as you don’t cross that line,” he said. “If you cross the line, I’m not a teddy bear.”
He’s more like a grizzly.