US House race: The polls, PACs and final pitches

In the final days before the election, Congressman Don Young got some six-figure help from a Republican Political Action Committee while his campaign ran an ad accusing independent challenger Alyse Galvin of taking money from Democratic PACs. Galvin denounced the ad, for several reasons.

On Sunday, while Galvin was on a campaign swing in Juneau, Young was at a Republican rally and chili feed at Anchorage Christian Schools. He cheered the crowd by condemning federal overreach while lauding personal liberty.

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Rep. Don Young greeted supporters at a Republican rally Sunday. Photo: Liz Ruskin

“This is a great nation. We basically have good people,” Young said from the stage of multipurpose room. “Don’t let – I call it the cancer of our society – socialism, take it over. And that’s where this nastiness is coming from. We have to stand up as Americans, and we have to stand up as Alaskans and say ‘we’re taking our lives back.’”

Young has been in office 45 years, longer that most Alaskans have been alive. He’s now 85. But he said he feels 35.

The Galvin camp was buoyed by a poll last week showing her one percentage point ahead of Young. That poll was conducted by Ivan Moore, who typically works for candidates and causes on the political left. Galvin isn’t the first challenger Moore has said was in the lead. Young’s campaign manager, Jerry Hood, isn’t buying it.

“With all due respect to Ivan, he was wrong in 2008, he was wrong two years ago,” Hood said. “I have had consistent and extensive polling since June, and we have maintained a good lead.”

The Young campaign has not made its polling public.

Nationally, Republicans are apparently concerned about their Alaska colleague. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Political Action Committee affiliated with the leaders of the U.S. House majority, announced Saturday it had dropped at least $100,000 on a “hyper-targeted” phone campaign to help Young.

Galvin said that’s not right.

“We really need to rewrite our laws to get big money out of politics,” she said. “When they can come in and scoop up an election in a couple of days, with a heck of a lot of money that nobody really understands where it’s coming from. That just doesn’t make any sense.”

Galvin talked to reporters who went door-knocking with her in Anchorage Friday. Photo: Liz Ruskin

The Congressional Leadership Fund is required to disclose its donors. Federal Election Commission data show the Fund’s largest donors are Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who together donated $50 million. Another of its major donors is American Action Network, a group that doesn’t have to tell the FEC where its money comes from.

As it happens, the Young campaign began running ads last week accusing Galvin of going back on her promise not to accept “special interest” money.

“But wait: she already has,” the ad says. “Contributions from the Blue Momentum PAC and the Swing Left PAC, funded by New York and San Francisco millionaires, including left-wing George Soros.”

Galvin received contributions totaling $3,000 from the two PACs, which are linked to Democrats.

Galvin said she’s keeping her pledge not to accept corporate PAC money. She points out that Young has received $480,000 from Political Action Committees.

“That’s almost half of his money, just from PACs,” she said. “And I’ve received less than 2 percent in PAC money.”

Galvin said she also finds it “very distressing” that the ad points a finger at George Soros, whose name is mention twice in the one-minute spot.

Soros is a billionaire who gives money to liberal causes (and gave $50,000 to Swing Left). Soros is also at the center of a lot of far right-wing conspiracy theories that depict him as an evil person who secretly controls the levers power. The Anti-Defamation League says the theories are sometimes explicitly anti-Semitic.

“Don Young, whether he intended it or not, is perpetuating that anti-Semitism and hateful stereotypes, by putting out this ad,” Galvin said.

Young’s campaign manager called the charge of anti-Semitism “ridiculous.”

The ad calls Soros “left-wing” and “socialist.” It doesn’t mention that he’s Jewish. As one of Young’s long-time supporters put it, just because Soros is the subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories doesn’t mean all criticism of him is anti-Semitic.