Galvin runs as Alaskan everywoman, vying for US House

Independent Alyse Galvin has raised more than $600,000 in her bid to unseat Congressman Don Young. She’s vying for the Democratic nomination. (Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

Two well-funded candidates are running in the Democratic primary to win the opportunity to challenge incumbent Republican Congressman Don Young. They are Alyse Galvin and Dimitri Shein, both from Anchorage. We’re featuring Galvin first.

Alyse Surratt Galvin is running as an everywoman. That’s part of her campaign message.

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“This is the time for someone who is like all people, to be representing people,” Galvin said. “I’m in touch. I’ve been there.”

Galvin is best known as a mainstay of Great Alaska Schools, a citizens’ lobby that has pressed the Legislature for better education funding. But she’s done plenty of other things, too – daycare operator, hotel manager, school consultant.

“Honestly, my biggest pride in terms of my job in life is raising four kids,” said Galvin, whose youngest goes off to college this fall.

Galvin grew up mostly in Alaska. She has family members who homesteaded in the Anchorage Bowl, among other relatives who settled in the state.

“They became everything from builders to auto mechanics and butchers and, well, misfits and outlaws — a little bit of everything,” she said.

Galvin is running in the Democratic primary, but she’s an independent, or technically “undeclared.” She says her positions line up well with the Democratic platform, though she says she’s more committed to solutions than she is to any party.

If she wins the primary, she’ll be on the ballot as the Democratic nominee. If she loses the primary, she says she will not try other routes to get on the November ballot. Democrat Dimitri Shein has pledged the same, so they’re not going to split the Democratic vote in the General.

Galvin says healthcare is at crisis point in Alaska, and is calling for a multi-pronged approach. First she wants to stop efforts that undermine existing coverage, and in the meantime she wants to work toward comprehensive coverage for everyone. Shein wants single-payer health care, Medicare for all. Galvin isn’t opposed to that.

“I think that’s an idea that certainly needs to be put on the table as one of them, as one solution,” Galvin said.

Congressman Young is tight with the National Rifle Association and opposes bills to ban assault-style firearms. Asked if she supports a ban on specific firearms, Galvin reframed the issue around violence and mental health.

“I think that parents aren’t feeling safe I’m very concerned about how we’re feeling. Our children aren’t feeling safe walking into school,” Galvin said. “At the same time, we’re a state that very much values having our guns. In fact, for many Alaskans it brings us the protein that many families need.”

Galvin says it’s possible to protect Second Amendment rights and still increase safety. To do that she wants to close loopholes in background check requirements before gun sales.

“I’m also in favor of ensuring that we have the resources we need to follow the laws that are on the books as well,” Galvin said.

Galvin said she’ll hold the president to account, if needed, and she opposes efforts to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller before he finishes investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

If Galvin is part of a “blue wave” that puts Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, there will likely be a push to reverse the decision that opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development. Galvin hasn’t taken a position on that.

“Well, I’m I’m not running on that,” she said, of future ANWR legislation. “That’s not something that I’m putting out as one of my platform pieces. I do know that it passed (in) law already. Whether or not it gets rescinded, I don’t know about that.”

Galvin said she is leery of offshore drilling in the Arctic. She’s not convinced it’s safe.

Alyse Galvin is married to Pat Galvin, a Democrat who was then-Gov. Sarah Palin’s Revenue commissioner. Pat Galvin is now an executive at Great Bear Petroleum, an exploration company active on the North Slope.

Alyse Galvin has proved she can raise serious money. She’s raked in about $600,000, a third of it in small donations – $200 or less. Her biggest contributors, at $4,000 apiece, are a fund associated with the National Education Association, and the campaign of Democrat Steve Lindbeck, who challenged Young two years ago. Galvin says she’ll have to raise a lot more to beat the incumbent. The Congressman has raised about $800,000 so far.

Besides Galvin and Dimitri Shein, two other candidates will appear on the Democratic ballot who have raised little or no money. Christopher Cumings, of Ketchikan, says on Facebook he’s running in part to raise awareness of addiction and suicide. Carol Hafner lists a South Dakota address and says she’s never been to Alaska.

The primary is Tuesday, August 21st.

Check back soon for our story about Galvin’s main opponent in that race, Dimitri Shein.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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