Alaskans send Young back to Congress

ANCHORAGE — Alaska voters on Tuesday gave U.S. Rep. Don Young a 21st term in Congress, and awarded all three electoral votes to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Young, a Republican, earned an overwhelming victory over his main challenger, Democrat Sharon Cissna of Anchorage.

Voters also were deciding if Republicans take control of both houses of the state Legislature, and whether to call constitutional convention. Another issue on the ballot was approving nearly a half-billion dollars in bonds for statewide projects, including $50 million for the troubled Port of Anchorage.

Romney continued a tradition of Alaskans electing Republicans at the top of the ticket. The last Democrat to win the state was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

“In his second term I am hopeful that President Obama will see the value of pragmatism over partisanship,” U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a statement. “Both parties created the challenges we face today, and the solutions can only be found through collaborative efforts — good ideas don’t come with a party label. I encourage President Obama and his administration to work with Congress, represent all of America and make a better tomorrow for our nation.”

Valerie Tan of Anchorage voted Republican, throwing her support behind Romney to counter what she called a “spiritual crisis” in the nation. At the same time, she hopes to see the state Senate’s bipartisan coalition survive.

“I think everybody should work together. Everybody has a different opinion,” she said.

Mayak Nak supported Obama’s re-election bid and backed Cissna over Young. On a state level, the Anchorage man was hoping to see both parties work together, particularly in Alaska’s 20-member Senate, even if Republicans were to take the majority.

“Bipartisanship is a good thing, when you forget your own party and make for what will benefit the people in general,” Nak said.

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, a Romney supporter, says discussions he’s had with Democrats in the White House is that they understand the goals that Alaska has, and sometimes they agree with them. “How we get there, we have to sort that out,” he said.

Chief among them is increasing the flow of oil through the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, Alaska’s economic lifeline.

“We have to come to some sort of accommodation on how we keep that pipeline full,” he said.

The biggest focus this election has been on state Senate races. The 20-member Senate is currently ruled by a bipartisan coalition comprised of 10 Democrats and six Republicans, which has blocked Gov. Sean Parnell’s efforts to lower taxes on oil producers.

The Senate the past two years has blocked efforts by Gov. Sean Parnell to pass bills lowering taxes on oil companies operating in the state. Parnell’s says oil companies will take the money they are saving in taxes and invest in new production.

But members of the coalition wants assurances that oil companies will invest that money, and favor giving rebates for investments made.

Alaskans also were favoring issuing $453 million in bonds for statewide transportation projects, according to early vote returns. If approved, the Port of Anchorage — where 90 percent of goods coming into Alaska arrive — will receive $50 million. A port expansion project has been plagued by cost overruns and construction problems..

After every Census, voters are asked whether to call a constitutional convention, where changes to the five-decade old document could be considered. It was failing in early vote returns.

Associated Press reporters Rachel D’Oro and Becky Bohrer contributed to this report.

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