Democrat Jake Metcalfe announces his run for U.S. House

There’s another challenger taking aim at Congressman Don Young in next year’s elections. Jake Metcalfe has stepped aside as chairman of the Alaska Democratic Party to become a candidate. He joins Diane Benson, who won a surprising percentage of votes in an under-funded run at Young in last year’s elections. Metcalfe served two terms on the Anchorage School Board.

In the early 90s, while working as the Bethel District Attorney, he was elected to a two-year term on the Bethel City Council. Metcalfe believes he has the right qualities to represent working people, veterans and other Alaskans in the U.S. House.

Things appear to have happened fast. Just last Thursday, Metcalfe joined other state Democratic party leaders to unveil a website aimed at dumping Don Young because of the criminal investigation he’s under and other questions raised about his ethics. But by Saturday, Metcalfe told party staffers he was leaving to run for Young’s seat and was ready to launch a campaign website.

Another potential Democratic challenger, former state House minority leader Ethan Berkowitz, is planning to decide by late summer or early fall whether to run. He says Metcalfe’s move is not affecting that timetable but he questions whether Metcalfe’s switch from party chairman to congressional candidate is wise.

For his part, Jake Metcalfe believes the Democratic Party is in good shape as he steps away to focus on his congressional bid.

Metcalfe and Berkowitz also seem to have a different philosophy about selecting a candidate to vie for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat. Berkowitz believes Democrats should pick and rally behind the strongest candidate. Metcalfe welcomes a primary contest.

And Metcalfe admits it’s possible other good Democrats might jump in the race. Metcalfe is in Washington, D.C. to attend a conference held by his employer, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). But his run for Congress presents a quandary because there has been some consideration of trying to set up a union-related meeting with Congressman Young tomorrow.

Metcalfe also hopes to meet with key House Democrats to talk about this campaign. Diane Benson, who got 40% of the vote in her run against Young in last year’s general election, has already filed for next year’s campaign. She did not return calls placed to her campaign office today.

Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, D.C. and Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau