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August 27, 2008

Young, Parnell locked in nail-biter

While you were sleeping, one of the most closely watched GOP primaries remains way too close to call.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Alaska’s lieutenant governor Sean Parnell are locked in a nail-biter, with Young leading by 145 votes, 42,461 to 42,316. A third candidate, state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, is well behind in third place.

Young, who has served in Congress for 35 years, is facing one of his toughest battles of his political career.

Young is under investigation by the Justice Department over his ties to oil services giant Veco Corp. and has spent much of his campaign funds on legal fees. The grizzled veteran has also been opposed by the anti-tax, fiscally conservative Club for Growth over his vigorous support of federal earmarking.

If Young holds onto his razor-thin lead, he will be facing former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, a leading Democratic recruit.

DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen told Politico yesterday that Democrats would prefer to run against Young in a general election, but said they are preparing to contest the seat no matter who wins.

“We are going to compete in that district no matter what. But the lessons from the last election were that if you’ve got a incumbent being investigated by the FBI who has the ethical problems that Don Young’s got, that presents a big opportunity,” said Van Hollen.

“Clearly if Don Young is the candidate, the campaign will take a different kind of focus on all the problems he’s had.”

The DCCC has been involved in the Republican primary, sending out mailers accusing Parnell of supporting tax increases.