Don Young, Longest-Serving US Representative, Dies At 88
03:39 GMT 19.03.2022 (Updated: 14:44 GMT 13.03.2023)
© AP Photo / U.S. Rep. Don Young
© AP Photo /
Alaska’s Anchorage Daily News reported that according to Jack Ferguson, a lobbyist who was previously Young’s chief of staff, the late Republican representative “lost consciousness on a flight from Los Angeles to Seattle and couldn’t be resuscitated.”
Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young died Friday, his office reported.
Young was the longest-serving member of Congress.
“It’s with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we announce Congressman Don Young, the Dean of the House and revered champion for Alaska, passed away today while traveling home to Alaska to be with the state and people that he loved,” read a statement by his office.
“Everyone’s learning about it right at the moment. The phone’s ringing off the hook,” Young's ex-chief of staff Ferguson told the Daily News on Friday. “I’m sad to lose such a good friend, and a person that I’ve known all his political career.”
According to Ferguson, Young’s “goal” at the time of his passing was to help flip the US House to Republican control.
“He was vibrant, he had a lot of energy, he’s very clear of mind, spoke clearly about what he wanted to accomplish, set goals that he wanted to make happen, and was happy to be running.”
Young began his career in the US House of Representatives during the Nixon Administration, when he lost a special election to Democratic incumbent Nick Begich, but ultimately took power after his opponent was declared legally dead following a plane crash in late 1972 from which the representative’s body was never recovered.
Despite a handful of more serious challengers in primary and general elections, Young would go on to be reelected 24 times.
Young initially opposed the campaign of Donald Trump, but he was largely deferential during Trump’s presidency, and voted against Trump’s impeachment twice.
In November 2021, the late Alaska representative was among a number of “RINOs, sellouts, and known losers” that the former US President suggested should be voted out in primary elections.
Weeks later, Young told The Washington Post that the former President should “just shut up,” though the late Representative admitted Trump was “not going to” follow his advice and cautioned he still believed Trump’s policy was “so good.”
Soon thereafter, Young was denounced by fellow Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) as a "traitor” after he was one of just 13 House Republicans who voted in favor of US President Joe Biden's recently-passed infrastructure plan.
In 2019, Young was the lone Republican who voted in favor of the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act, which mandated standards for Customs and Border Patrol detention facilities like health screenings and access to food and water for detainees.
Per the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska law dictates that Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy “call a special election to fill Young’s seat within three months, and no sooner than two months from the date of his death.”