Alaska’s Republican Congressman Endorses Hawaii Democrat For Senate

Don Young has represented Alaska as its sole Member of Congress for 40 years now and he’s always been a fairly reliable Republican, albeit that’s probably because it was in his interests as Alaska’s greatest earmarker to have good relationships with party leadership. That’s the main reason why this is so surprising:

Longtime Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska on Tuesday made a rarely-seen move by crossing party lines to endorse a Hawaii Democrat in her U.S. Senate bid.

Young, the sole representative from Alaska, taped a video with three-term Rep. Mazie Hirono to offer his support as Hirono competes in the Democratic primary.

“While Mazie and I don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, we’ve done something too many people in Washington refuse to cross the aisle and do: We’ve worked together,” Young says in the video, sitting alongside Hirono.

The two noted a piece of legislation on which they both worked to protect native education plans in their home states.

“Once Don and I joined together as a Republican and Democrat, I had to battle my own party leadership to get our amendment passed,” Horino says in the video.

Young adds: “It’s true. I watched Mazie do it. And let me tell you, that Nancy Pelosi is one stubborn…”

Jumping in, Horino says: “Don, what have I told you?”

“I…I…will not say anything else,” Young says, jokingly. “But here’s what’s important to Hawaii. If you’re looking for a United States Senator who doesn’t just talk about bipartisanship but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done, Mazie Hirono will be that senator.”

Horino is running against former Rep. Ed Case in the Democratic primary, scheduled to take place August 11. The winner of that contest will face off against the Republican candidate in the general election for the open Senate seat to replace retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, a Democrat.

On the GOP side, former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is running against former state senator John Carroll.

It’s left unclear if Young’s endorsement is just for the primary or not, but it really doesn’t matter. If Hirono wins the nomination it would be hard for him to turn around and endorse the Republican, who will most likely be Lingle. Allahpundit wonders why there doesn’t seem to be anyone in Alaska willing to take this guy on. Well, as it turns out, there are two Republicans running against Young in the August 28 primary, but I don’t get the impression that either one of them has much of a chance against him. Indeed, two years ago, Young also faced two challengers, including one of the men running against him this time around, and he crushed them in a primary where he got 70% of the vote. He might harm himself a little among Alaska Republicans with this endorsement, but I doubt it’s going to be enough to keep him from winning.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Congress, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Andy says:

    This conspiracy by the non-contiguous states against the lower 48 must be stopped!

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Amazing, even Don Young realizes that the current Republican Party is out-to-lunch.

  3. Craigo says:

    Doesn’t Young have a longstanding alliance with Akaka as well?

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Meh. The Alaska and Hawaii delegations for decades have worked together and often have crossed aisles. Inouye and Akaka both voted in favor of ANWR drilling. Stevens and the Murkowskis supported various Hawaiian-centric stuff. This really isn’t all that shocking. Plus Young is getting way up there in years and might at this stage also be a bit loopy. Now, granted, if Young announces that he’s voting for Obama then, yeah, of course, that would be quite newsworthy.

  5. CSK says:

    Maybe he decided to go rogue.