For years, Democrats struggled to find credible candidates willing to challenge the well-funded and entrenched Alaska Republican Congressman Don Young.
But times have changed with Young under federal investigation. Two Democratic candidates with bona fides are competing in their party's primary Tuesday for the right to battle for his seat in the November general election.
Ethan Berkowitz has the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on his side and a background of 10 years serving in the state Legislature. His Democratic primary opponent, Diane Benson, took on Young two years ago, before the congressman was considered potentially vulnerable, and came closer to beating him than any Democrat since the early 1990s.
"I want to finish what I started," said Benson, who collected more than 40 per cent of the vote in 2006 with a fraction of the campaign money that Young had.
Berkowitz spent eight years as the Democratic minority leader of the state House.
"I've got the experience to be effective in Washington, D.C. I've got the proven track record for what I stood up for in Juneau and I've been talking about the issue that's most on the minds of Alaskans," Berkowitz said.
Berkowitz was talking about energy, which he calls the defining issue of the time. In addition to a gas pipeline and more oil, he enthuses about Alaska having wind potential, more geothermal than the rest of the country put together and 90 percent of America's tidal potential. "I want to be the person who goes to Washington, D.C., spreads that word. I have the ability to do that, I have the will to do it," Berkowitz said.
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