Friday, October 12, 2007

Republican Kodiak Representative Gabrielle LeDoux Enters Race Against Alaska Congressman Don Young

The buzzards are circling Alaska's lone Congressman, Republican Don Young, and one more joined the flock on Wednesday night (October 10th) when State Representative Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Kodiak) proclaimed her intent to challenge Young for the Republican nomination in 2008. Full story published in the Anchorage Daily News and the Kodiak Daily Mirror Thursday morning and aired on KTUU Channel 2 Thursday night. In this post, I combine and summarize the most pertinent information from the media sources.

LeDoux joins an increasingly crowded field alongside three Democrats; former House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, former state Democratic Party Chairman Jake Metcalfe, and former Young opponent Diane Benson, who received 40 percent of the vote against Young in 2006.

Gabrielle LeDoux entered the race because she believes voters want someone who can work both with Republicans and Democrats. While she did not immediately bring up the federal investigation of Young, she believes that it creates a propitious opportunity for her to run against the longtime Congressman who has represented Alaska in the U.S. House since 1973. “I intend to run a clean, upbeat campaign emphasizing that the voters have made it clear they are ready for change,” LeDoux said. On KTUU, she characterized herself as more approachable and hinted that Don Young might be considered arrogant. She also denied having ever been in the infamous "Room 604", where so much of the VECO corruption was hatched, but did not deny that she was lobbied by VECO elsewhere.

LeDoux said she plans travel throughout the state, recognizing that Young has a considerable war chest already built up with which to run a campaign. “It might be sort of like David and Goliath, but I think I can raise enough funding to run against him,” LeDoux said.

LeDoux's campaign website,, is still under construction. A local blogger who posts regularly on different aspects of life in Kodiak, Kodiak Konfidential, has discussed LeDoux on several occasions. Click HERE to view his posts referencing LeDoux.

One issue LeDoux said she now is watching is development of Pebble Mine, which is in her current legislative district. And she appears to be turning against the proposed project, despite the fact that the mine's construction would create 2,000 jobs, and, once in operation, the mine would require 1,000 workers for its 40- to 70-year life, in addition to providing some desperately needed diversification to the Bristol Bay area's grossly distorted economy exceptionally dependent upon fishing, and, to a lesser degree, tourism. “I can no longer advocate for letting the permit process run its course on Pebble Mine,” LeDoux said. “So far, that process set in place by the Murkowski administration is stacked against environmental concerns.”

Concerning money that was previously donated to her from Veco Corp., LeDoux said that is a dead issue, pointing out that while she has returned the money now designated for charities, Young has not returned money he received from Veco.

LeDoux has also expressed some concern about Alaska's earthquake vulnerability and the state's ability to respond to such disasters. She discussed those concerns at length in a letter to the Sitka News back in September 2005, promoting the Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission.

Gabrielle LeDoux has also been a passionate advocate of "Safe Surrender" legislation, which would allow a woman to surrender her newborn baby to a cop, a firefighter, or a hospital without fear of legal retaliation, and on September 7th, she took serious issue with a fellow lawmaker, John Cowdery, who she believed buried her proposed legislation.

LeDoux, who was once a Democrat herself, is a lawyer who is a former Kodiak Island Borough mayor. She was first elected to the State House in 2004 after defeating Dan Ogg in the Republican primary. Her district, House District 36, not only includes Kodiak itself, but also encompasses Afognak, Akhiok, Cape Chiniak, Igiugig, Iliamna, Karluk, Kokhanok, Kokhanok Bay, Larsen Bay, Levelock, Newhalen, Nondalton, Old Harbor, Ouzinkie, Pedro Bay, Pleasant Harbor, Port Alsworth, Port Bailey, Port Lions, Raspberry Island, Seal Bay, Shuyak Island, Spruce Island. She doesn't get the publicity that other lawmakers get, and her home district seems somewhat ambivalent about her. Kodiak Konfidential characterizes her as a "RINO" (Republican In Name Only), and in a story in the Alaska Report, John Finley, a fisheries activist who has lobbied for the right of Alaskan fishermen to harvest rockfish, claimed that LeDoux rode into office on the back of the Asian-Latino vote. According to, Kodiak is 43.7% White, 29.2% Filipino, 13.1% Alaska Native, and 8.5% Hispanic.

And Don Young reacted. According to his campaign manager Steve Dougherty, Young welcomes the competition. He said Young is absolutely planning to run for re-election and is fully engaged in his campaign.

The 74-year-old Young has been Alaska's sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1973. Young has so long been a leading figure in Alaska politics that often he's only faced token opposition, with prominent Democrats not wanting to waste time with what seemed a lost cause. That is not the case this time around.

Young, who chaired the powerful House Transportation Committee from 2000 to 2006, now serves as the ranking Republican on the House Resources Committee. He says he's still plenty effective in Congress, and doesn't see himself as vulnerable in the 2008 election. In an August interview with the Associated Press, Young warned challengers against mudslinging when he campaigns for re-election.

Assessment: Seems like a good candidate who's a moderate. Her legal expertise makes her opinion about the Pebble Mine more educated, but she should wait until Northern Dynasty releases its final proposal before writing it off. Her mission should be to secure more jobs for her district, not drive jobs away. She'll run a good primary campaign, and maybe get 35% of the vote, but she will not beat Don Young as the Mat-Su Valley and the Kenai Peninsula will help sweep him to victory.

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