Alaska's Don Young Wins After Final Tally

By Ben Pershing Staff Writer
Friday, September 19, 2008

More than three weeks after Alaskans went to the polls, embattled Rep. Don Young officially won the state's House GOP primary yesterday when election officials certified his narrow victory, and his opponent, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, declined to ask for a recount.

Young led by 151 votes after the Aug. 26 balloting, and a tally of absentee and provisional ballots pushed his final margin to 304 votes, or 45.47 percent, to Parnell's 45.19 percent of the nearly 106,000 votes cast. The small margin of victory entitled Parnell to request a recount, paid for by the state, but he decided not to do so.

"If I thought there was anything wrong, inappropriate or unprofessional about the way this election tally was conducted, I would not only call for a recount, I would demand one," Parnell said. "But that is not the case here."

Events in the presidential contest may have diminished his incentive to keep fighting for the House seat. With Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin now the GOP's vice presidential nominee, Parnell is in position to become governor if the Republican ticket prevails. In a statement, Parnell noted that his current "responsibilities are heightened even more with the exciting possibility" that Palin could become vice president.

Parnell's concession clears the way for Young to face former state representative Ethan Berkowitz (D) in November. Young said Wednesday that he was "chomping at the bit to return home and work hard for reelection."

Young, 75, has held the state's lone House seat for 35 years, regularly winning reelection by wide margins. But this time he is part of a wide-ranging federal investigation of corruption in Alaska and is facing scrutiny for his authorship of a controversial highway-bill earmark that benefited a Florida developer who raised money for Young's campaign.

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