Voting has already begun in the special primary election to fill the late congressman Don Young’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Forty-eight candidates are on the ballot, and they span the ideological spectrum from former governor Sarah Palin to Santa Claus – that’s the city council member from North Pole. Kodiak Democrat Mike Milligan is also in the mix.
“It’s obviously an opportunity for Alaska to hear a variety of ideas.” said Milligan.
Milligan’s lived on the island for more than four decades. He’s retired now, but he served on the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly for 7 years in the 90s, and he was a charter member of the Cook Inlet Regional Advisory Council. He also ran against Don Young as a member of the Green Party back in 1992 – he’s running as a Democrat this time.
Milligan said this primary election is once-in-a-lifetime, and he filed to run just hours before the April 1 deadline to fill the remainder of Rep. Young’s term.
“Most of us didn’t know what was going to happen and all these – there were maybe people we didn’t find out about til later,” said Milligan. “My main concern was that there was not going to be a candidate that was opposed to going into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”
Milligan says allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, would ultimately hurt Alaska’s oil and gas industry, and he says the Biden Administration’s 30 by 30 plan – which calls for preserving 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030 – could be lucrative for the state.
“That’s just a fantastic deal for Alaska because we’re already there,” he said. “And we could bargain that for access to capital.”
Milligan is emphatically pro-choice. He believes the country’s highest earners should pay more in taxes. He supports guaranteed maternity leave for new parents. He believes in tightening gun laws.
And he’s not the only candidate jockeying for local attention.
Koniag Native Corporation announced late last month that its Board of Directors had unanimously endorsed Tara Sweeney – a Republican – for the House seat, calling her “an advocate for Kodiak Island.”
Sweeney is one of four Alaska Natives running; she has experience in federal government as the assistant secretary of Indian affairs at U.S. Interior Department and she served as the executive vice president of external affairs for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. Unlike Milligan, she’s in favor of opening up ANWR. She’s also pro-choice, and says she would vote to codify Roe v Wade.
During the 2020 election, Republican candidates edged democrats in the Kodiak Island Borough. Milligan said he’s hoping he can change that this election cycle.
“Hopefully there would be a democrat in the final four, and I would work to help that democrat,” he said.
All ballots for the special election must be postmarked by Saturday, June 11. The top four vote-getters will advance to the general election on Aug. 16. A full list of candidates and election information is available online.