POLITICS

Young wins 21st term, Romney takes state

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Photo -   Incumbent U.S. Congressman Don Young enters election central followed by a crowd of supporters Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)
Incumbent U.S. Congressman Don Young enters election central followed by a crowd of supporters Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska voters kept two streaks going in Tuesday's election, returning a familiar face to Congress and keeping the state a solid red when it comes to the presidential election.

U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, won a 21st term in the House, and Alaskans awarded all three electoral votes to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Young, a Republican, earned an overwhelming victory over his main challenger, Democrat Sharon Cissna of Anchorage.

Voters also gave Republicans control of both houses of the state Legislature. Discussions were to take place Wednesday to see how Senate members might form alliances.

Alaskans were also deciding if nearly a half-billion dollars in bonds should be issued for statewide projects, including $50 million for the troubled Port of Anchorage.

Romney continued a tradition of Alaskans electing Republicans at the top of the ticket. The last Democrat to win the state was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

"In his second term I am hopeful that President Obama will see the value of pragmatism over partisanship," U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a statement. "Both parties created the challenges we face today, and the solutions can only be found through collaborative efforts — good ideas don't come with a party label. I encourage President Obama and his administration to work with Congress, represent all of America and make a better tomorrow for our nation."

"I look forward to continuing to build on the important progress we have made not only on Arctic development, but on other critical Alaska issues like supporting our veterans, balancing the budget, permitting mines and improving education," U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said in a statement.

Valerie Tan of Anchorage voted Republican, throwing her support behind Romney to counter what she called a "spiritual crisis" in the nation. At the same time, she hopes to see the state Senate's bipartisan coalition survive.

"I think everybody should work together. Everybody has a different opinion," she said.

Mayak Nak supported Obama's re-election bid and backed Cissna over Young. On a state level, the Anchorage man was hoping to see both parties work together, particularly in Alaska's 20-member Senate, even if Republicans were to take the majority.

"Bipartisanship is a good thing, when you forget your own party and make for what will benefit the people in general," Nak said.

Obama supporter Amy Ryan of Anchorage voted for Cissna. Ryan said she's not a big fan of Young and believes it's time for someone fresh to represent Alaska in Congress. Cissna got her support because she is a Democrat.

"I just like to vote a straight Democratic ticket," Ryan said. "That way, they can support the president right along the line."

The biggest focus this election has been on state Senate races. The 20-member Senate had been ruled by a bipartisan coalition comprised of 10 Democrats and six Republicans, which has blocked Gov. Sean Parnell's efforts to lower taxes on oil producers. Even though the Republicans took a majority late Tuesday with 11 members in the 20-seat chamber, it doesn't mean they would be the ruling party.

The Senate the past two years has blocked efforts by Gov. Sean Parnell to pass bills lowering taxes on oil companies operating in the state. Parnell's says oil companies will take the money they are saving in taxes and invest in new production.

But members of the coalition wants assurances that oil companies will invest that money, and favor giving rebates for investments made.

Because of redistricting, nearly every Senate seat is up for election this year, and Parnell and other Republicans have worked hard to break up the coalition in this election.

Alaskans also were favoring issuing $453 million in bonds for statewide transportation projects, according to early vote returns. If approved, the Port of Anchorage — where 90 percent of goods coming into Alaska arrive — will receive $50 million. A port expansion project has been plagued by cost overruns and construction problems..

After every Census, voters are asked whether to call a constitutional convention, where changes to the five-decade old document could be considered. That measure failed by a wide margin.

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Associated Press reporters Rachel D'Oro and Becky Bohrer contributed to this report.

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