Don Young uses death-grip handshake against Alyse Galvin

if you haven’t done so, check out the video of Rep. Don Young and challenger Alyse Galvin answering questions at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage Friday.

Pay attention to the last 20 seconds. As the final applause ended, Galvin smiled, turned to Young and extended her hand, a polite gesture. The response from Young was anything but polite.

Young gave her the old death grip, which is as much a part of his persona as his bolo tie. After a second or so, Galvin, 53, pulled back and said “That hurt. That hurts.”

Young said, “I’m sorry. I’m shaking hands. I’m sorry.” Then he laughed it off.

This was rude on Young’s part, intentional or not.

Maybe it was an attempt to physically intimidate his female opponent with his manly handshake, trying to prove he is not too old. Maybe it’s just a bad habit he can’t change after living in Washington, D.C. for the past 45 years.

The Republican apologists who sweep up after Young suggest she isn’t tough enough for the job if she can’t stand a little hand crushing and had to “bark” her complaint.

“To the viewer, the handshake appeared to be normal, and Young is, after all, a strong 85 years old,” gushed the Alaska Republican Party mouthpiece.

There is nothing in Galvin’s behavior to hint that she did this for the camera, that she tried to attract attention to herself, or that her response was phony. She didn’t manufacture this incident.

Young has a long track record of strong-arm tactics with anyone who gets in his way or challenges him. It’s become second nature for the old politician.

Four years ago he angrily twisted the left arm of a young Congressional staffer who was just doing his job, standing in Young’s way in front of a hearing room door. The video became a national news story and Young had to apologize.

And Young told his opponent four years ago, “Don't you ever touch me. Don't ever touch me. The last guy who touched me ended up on the ground dead.”

During the 2014 AFN convention, Young was confronted by an Alaska Native woman who took him to task for comments in which he blamed students at a school for not doing enough to stop a suicide. He told her to “shush,'“ but she responded by telling him, “Don’t you get angry with me, don’t even squeeze my hand.” Then he released her hand and walked away.

Reacting to the death-grip video Friday, Julia Quist of Fairbanks wrote on Facebook about how her son, Christopher, now a borough assembly member, shook hands with Young about 30 years ago.

Quist said Christopher was about 8 when he appeared as a junior clown, an assistant to Mr. Checkers the magician, at the opening of the Fred Meyer store on Airport Way.

“Don Young came to the store and the little guy went up to him to shake his hand. Next thing I heard was “I think you broke my hand,”” she said.

Quist said she has never forgotten that Young replied “don’t be a sissy” and walked away. She said Christopher’s hand was bruised.

In a remark aimed at Galvin, she said that maybe Young accidentally hurt her son all those years ago, “but with you it was very intentional. Replay the video. He is a bully and a brute.”

Dermot Cole9 Comments