Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has announced that the state would hold a special June 11 primary election to fill the congressional seat left vacant by the death of Don Young. The entire state of Alaska is in a single congressional district. The announcement was made on March 22.

The general election would be held on August 16. The winner would serve out the rest of Young's term until January 2023 when the next congressional term would begin.

A primary and a general election on the same day

A primary election for the next two-year congressional term is slated to be held simultaneously with the August 16 special general election, according to CBS News.

The news outlet explained that this would be the first time Alaska had an open primary followed by a general election where the ranked-choice voting system was used.

The statewide primary election will be carried out by mail and the top four winners will go on to the general election, according to KINY. CBS News said voters in the general election would then rank the four candidates according to preference.

Lindsay Kavanaugh, executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party, told the Anchorage Daily News that among the public there was "massive confusion" about the ranked-choice system.

KINY quoted election officials as saying April 1 was the deadline for would-be members of Congress to declare their candidacies.

The AP said that Governor Mike Dunleavy had ruled out a candidacy, but two candidates had emerged – Christopher Constant, a Democrat, and Nick Begich, a Republican.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has expressed an interest in filling Young's seat in Congress, according to The Hill. The news outlet quoted Palin as saying she would agree to take the seat "in a heartbeat" if she were asked.

Despite saying that she would be "humbled and honored" to serve in Congress, Palin had indicated that she would not begin campaigning for the position, at least not immediately, The Hill said.

Ready with his knife

At the time of his death, Young had been dean of the House of Representatives, the longest-serving member of Congress, The Washington Post said.

He had first been elected to Congress in 1973, the paper said.

The “irascible” and “carefree” 88-year-old former tugboat captain had claimed to have carried a knife as a weapon for 70 years, the paper said. Young told the paper that he had, indeed, pulled a knife on former House Speaker John Boehner but he insisted that the blade had not been open. Boehner mentions the incident in his book, "On the House."

Politico noted that after a Russian politician's public threat to kidnap U.S. Congressman Ruben Gallego, Young had offered his Democrat colleague his support in a Tweet. "I'm the only Member of Congress with the skills, training, and experience to bring a knife to a gun fight," Young said.

Writing in The New York Times, Robert McFadden said Young had "cultivated the image of a rugged frontiersman with outsize clout." Young had scoffed at climate change, called for legalization of marijuana, opposed legalized abortion except to safeguard a woman's life and supported Alaska's tribal governments, McFadden said.

'A serious legislator'

The Hill quoted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as saying Young had been "a serious legislator" who had consistently brought "people together to do the people’s work." She said that Young would lie in state at the Capitol on March 29, according to the AP.