Testy moments punctuated the “Debate for the State” Friday night, when Congressman Don Young and independent challenger Alyse Galvin faced off.
One thing the candidates agreed on: American politics has become too hostile. Galvin said she’d model civility in Congress.
“I think that all of the hate, and the emboldening of the hate and those actions is horrible,” she said. “And frankly that’s part of why I’m running.”
Watch the whole debate:
Galvin, 53, is a first-time candidate who is on the ballot as the Democratic nominee.
Young, 85, is the most senior member of Congress. He’s been in office since 1973. He said he continues to work well with Democrats, despite the tenor of the times.
“A lot of blame is going on. A lot of pointing of fingers,” he said. “I’m one, and been rated as one, as one the most across-the-aisle individuals, in the five percent who gets things done.”
Young and Galvin clearly differ on climate change.
“We’re warming up, and I do not believe that man is the cause. It’s being used as an instrument to frighten people,” Young said.
Galvin drew the contrast: “Unlike my opponent, I agree with the 99.5 percent of scientists who say climate change is absolutely related to human activity.”
Galvin said she’d consider a carbon tax as a way to reduce emissions. Young said he’d oppose a carbon tax, which he said would transfer the problem and allow someone to make money off of it.
The testiest exchange of the night was between Young and one of the panelists. It came just eight minutes in, after Young talked about the caravan of Central Americans walking north through Mexico.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen when those people arrive at the (U.S.) border, how they’re going to handle it,” Young said. “That’s going to be the big, big enchilada when that happens.”
Channel 2 News reporter Rich Mauer asked about Young’s use of the term: “Mr. Young, you used the word ‘this is the big enchilada coming.’ Was that intentional?”
“No, and you know that, Rich,” Young asserted. “I’ve watched you over the years attack Ted Stevens, and you attack me all the time.”
Young said he meant it in the sense of “the big one” and nothing more. Still, Galvin seized the opportunity to bring up a different term Young used, five years ago.
“While that may not have been intentional, I think it lends itself to kind of where we’re comfortable speaking,” she said. “I know that he’s also used the term ‘wetback’ in the recent past. There’s just no place for that anymore.”
Young apologized in 2013 for using that word, within days of the event.
Galvin had her own trouble with terms during the debate. She repeatedly referred to “cutters” when she apparently meant “icebreakers.”
The debate was a co-production of KTUU-Channel 2 News and Alaska Public Media.
Editor’s note: The story has been updated to correct a quote from Galvin. The correct phrase is “… climate change is absolutely related to human activity” (the original story incorrectly use the phrase “climate activity” instead of “human activity”).