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THE NATIONAL MEDIA is focusing on Alaska's Sen. Ted Stevens (R), who is under federal investigation for allegedly taking bribes, but Rep. Don Young (R) is also facing some serious political fallout. A field of promising Republicans and Democrats are all gunning for the state's sole congressional seat.

The challengers smell blood in the water, thanks to the federal investigation into whether Young and Stevens accepted bribes, illegal gratuities and unreported gifts from VECO Corp., an international oil-field service company once based in Juneau. (VECO was sold last year and no longer exists.) In May, two former VECO executives pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, bribery and tax charges. Young and Stevens are still under investigation by the FBI and the IRS.

Alaska's sole congressman since 1973, Young is known for his mean temperament and salty outbursts, including a 2005 incident when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked him to redirect money earmarked for Alaska to hurricane relief projects along the Gulf Coast. "They can kiss my ear!" Young reportedly said of Katrina victims.

Young is competing with state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux and Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell in the Republican primary on Aug. 26. The Democratic candidates include former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz and television producer Diane Benson, whom Young defeated in 2006.

In addition to the race's most obvious theme, Young's opponents are also exploiting his penchant for pork. Parnell, Berkowitz and Benson have all told reporters they frown on the large amount of earmarks Young regularly secures for Alaska.

Young has raised more money than LeDoux, Parnell, Berkowitz and Benson combined, taking in just under $900,000. In a recent poll, however, Young trails Berkowitz by 10 percent. The state's congressional primary is Aug. 26. -- Ryan Reeh
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Title Annotation:States in the Spotlight
Author:Reeh, Ryan
Publication:Campaigns & Elections
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U9AK
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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