Incumbent Frank Murkowski (R), first elected governor in 2002, ran for reelection but was defeated in a landslide in the Republican primary by former Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin on August 22, 2006. Murkowski's approval rating at the time of the election was 19%. Murkowski also faced opposition from former state lawmaker and Fairbanks businessman John Binkley.
Republican candidate Sarah Palin, Democratic candidate Tony Knowles, and independent candidate Andrew Halcro faced each other in the general election. Anchorage businessman Andrew Halcro ran as an Independent in the race for governor. Halcro has served in the Alaska State legislature in the past, and is known as a fiscal hawk. Halcro collected about 4,000 signatures to be placed on the general election ballot without party affiliation. Despite Knowles' experience, Palin's charisma and conservatism was able to win her first statewide election.