Young has come under scrutiny for a controversial phrase he used in an interview. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Longtime Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, drew anger from colleagues and voters when he referred to Hispanic farm workers as “wetbacks” this week. Young tried to explain the slur as outdated terminology from his youth, even as Speaker John A. Boehner demanded he apologize.
But Young, a 40-year House veteran, is probably not going anywhere anytime soon. He plans to seek a 21st term, saying recently he will keep running for Alaska’s sole House seat “until the day I can’t physically do it.”
In fact, Young has proved himself to be political Teflon in the Last Frontier. Here are three reasons why:
1. After 40 years in Congress, Young has seen — and said — it all. He’s survived multiple investigations by both the Justice Department and the House Ethics Committee (he was never charged). Earlier this month, the House Ethics Committee announced it is formally investigating him again, prompting this comment to the Alaska Dispatch:
“I’ve been under a cloud all my life,” Young said this week before his “wetbacks” comment aired. “It’s sort of like living in Juneau — it rains on you all the time and you don’t even notice it.”
Throughout his career, Young spouted off to his colleagues, most often about fighting for federal funds for Alaska. In 2005, for example, Young was asked to forgo some federal transportation projects for Alaska to help Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
“They can kiss my ear!” Young told a The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reporter. “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”