The U.S. House of Representatives honored – nearly roasted – Congressman Don Young Wednesday for becoming the new “dean of the House.”
The title is bestowed on the longest serving member. The dean’s job is to swear in the speaker each term.
“Remember, that’s swearing in the speaker, not swearing at the speaker,” House speaker Paul Ryan said to a spirited crowd in the chamber.
Ryan praised Young’s loyalty and hinted at some of his more colorful attributes. They include sometimes salty language, a personal fierceness and a giant bear skin hanging in his office.
“He can be direct, but you always know where he stands,” Ryan said. “Or more importantly, you always know where you stand with him.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., thanked him for his work turning San Francisco’s Presidio from military installation to park. She also congratulated him for being the first dean in 80 years from the Republican side of the aisle.
“It’s now Don’s solemn duty to help foster a climate of civility in the Congress, and to hold our colleagues accountable,” she said. “Why are you laughing, Don?”
Young has been in office since 1973. He says being dean won’t change him.
“I will still holler ‘VOTE!’ I will sometimes get out of line,” he said. “But in doing so, remember: it comes from my heart. And my heart is in this House.”
Young is running for re-election this year. And he has a new challenger.
Alyce Galvin, from Anchorage, is one of the founders of Great Alaska Schools, a group that has pressed the Legislature to provide more money for public education. She plans to run as an independent, on the Democratic ballot. According to a press advisory, Galvin will announce her campaign launch Thursday.