According to the Alaska Dispatch, Rep. Don Young “acted in a disrespectful and sometimes offensive manner to some students, used profanity and started talking about bull sex when confronted with a question about same-sex marriage,” during a visit to Wasilla High School on Tuesday. Worse yet, he made insensitive statements about suicide, days after a student who went to the school committed suicide.
Young’s spokesperson subsequently apologized, and said that Young should have taken a “much more sensitive approach” while speaking to the 120 or so students.
It was just that latest in a string of potentially embarrassing incidents involving Young, including, but not limited to, threatening to kill his challenger like he did “the other guy,” making goofy faces on the House floor while another House member was talking about a veteran who was killed in action, twisting the arm of a House aide, and barging through a House security barricade. All this just this year alone.
Democratic candidate Forrest Dunbar, as he should have, pounced. “Today Don Young demonstrated again that schools should think twice before exposing youth to Congressman Young,” he said, linking to a story recounting the time when Young blurted out the word, “butt f–king” to a group of Fairbanks students in the late 1980s.
And then Dunbar softened up: “What Don said was mistaken, and I think he regrets saying it. It shows ignorance about the issue, that’s all,” Dunbar said, referring to the remarks about suicide. (Dunbar’s full release is below.)
Dunbar has had plenty to work with, and has done a good job doing so with the limited resources and the experience that he has, but he could have done much more with more. Dunbar’s only
29 30 years old. But he’s clerked for former Sen. Frank Murkowski. He’s been in the Peace Corp, has a Yale Law degree, a master’s from Harvard Kennedy School, and is a first lieutenant in the Alaska National Guard.
In other words, he brings a good resume with his candidacy.
However, whereas Young as raised $758,380 so far in this election cycle, Dunbar has only raised a total of $159,351, all of it from individuals, except for a $2,093 “in kind” contribution for research from the Alaska Democratic Party, which has been doling out as much as $10,000 checks to state legislative candidates.
And the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has completely stiffed Dunbar.
In fact, one of the big stories of this election cycle might just be how the Democrats missed their chance at winning a U.S. House seat in Alaska.
Here’s Dunbar’s press release:
Today Don Young demonstrated again that schools should think twice before exposing youth to Congressman Young. In a performance that would make any mental health professional cringe, Alaska Dispatch News writes that Don Young told an assembly full of grieving students at Wasilla High School, who recently lost a classmate to suicide, that suicide shows a lack of support from friends and family. This lack of an understanding of mental illness stunned students and faculty. Young went so far as to highlight his misunderstanding by saying, “Well, what, do you just go to the doctor and get diagnosed with suicide?”
Alaska has the highest rate of suicide in the country. According to an Alaska Department of Health and Social Security study, suicide rates are particularly high in rural communities, among youth, and in the Alaska Native community: “The rate of suicide in the United States was 11.5 suicides per 100,000 people in 2007. In 2007, Alaska’s rate was 21.8 suicides per 100,000 people. The rate of suicide among Alaska Native peoples was 35.1 per 100,000 people in 2007.”
“Like most kids who grew up in rural Alaska, I’ve had several friends who took their own lives. Suicide can strike any family, and it is truly a mental health issue. In this state, in particular, suicide is a crisis,” stated Forrest Dunbar, Don Young’s opponent for Alaska’s Congressional seat. “What Don said was mistaken, and I think he regrets saying it. It shows ignorance about the issue, that’s all. I hope he has the opportunity to learn more about suicide in Alaskan communities, though I sincerely hope he doesn’t have to learn about it the way I did.”
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org