Lisa Murkowski

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Lisa Murkowski
Lisa Murkowski.jpg
United States Senator
from Alaska
Assumed office
December 20, 2002
Serving with Mark Begich
Preceded by Frank Murkowski
Member of the
Alaska House of Representatives
from the 18th District
In office
Preceded by Con Bunde
Succeeded by Nancy Dahlstrom[1]
Member of the
Alaska House of Representatives
from the 14th District
In office
Preceded by Terry Martin[2]
Succeeded by Vic Kohring[3]
Personal details
Born Lisa Ann Murkowski
(1957-05-22) May 22, 1957 (age 57)
Ketchikan, Alaska
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Verne Martell
Children Nic Martell
Matt Martell
Residence Anchorage, Alaska
Alma mater Georgetown University (B.A.)
Willamette University (J.D.)
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Lisa Ann Murkowski (born May 22, 1957) is the senior United States Senator from the State of Alaska and a member of the Republican Party. Murkowski has served in the Senate since 2002 and became the senior Senator after Ted Stevens, who served for over forty years, left office in January 2009 after losing a re-election bid.

Born in Ketchikan, she is the daughter of former United States Senator and Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski. She received her B.A. from Georgetown University and her J.D. from Willamette University College of Law. After working as an attorney, she was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1998 and was eventually elected House Majority Leader.

Murkowski was appointed to the United States Senate by her father to take the seat that Frank Murkowski vacated to take the governorship and was sworn in on December 20, 2002. Murkowski served the remainder of her father's unexpired term, electing to run for a full term in 2004 which she won.

Murkowski decided to run for a second term in 2010 but was defeated by Tea Party candidate Joe Miller in the Republican primary. The incumbent Senator chose to run as a write in candidate and defeated Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams in the general election.[4] She is the first senator to be elected by write-in vote since Strom Thurmond in 1954.[5]

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Murkowski was born in Ketchikan, Alaska, the daughter of Nancy Rena (née Gore) and Frank Murkowski.[6] Her paternal great-grandfather was of Polish descent, and her mother had Irish and French Canadian ancestry.[7] As a child, she and her family moved all over the state due to her father's job as a banker.

Murkowski earned a B.A. in economics from Georgetown University in 1980, the same year her father was elected to the U.S. Senate. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.[8] She received her J.D. from Willamette University College of Law in 1985. She was employed as an attorney in the Anchorage District Court Clerk's office, working there from 1987 to 1989.[9] She was an attorney in private practice in Anchorage, Alaska from 1989 to 1998. She also served, from 1990 to 1991, on the mayor's task force on the homeless.

Alaska House of Representatives[edit]

In 1998, Murkowski was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives and named as House Majority Leader for the 2003–2004 session. She never served as Majority Leader, due to her appointment to the Senate. Murkowski sat on the Alaska Commission on Post Secondary Education and chaired both the Labor and Commerce and the Military and Veterans Affairs Committees. In 1999 she introduced legislation establishing a Joint Armed Services Committee.

U.S. Senate career[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Since winning re-election, her voting record has become more moderate when compared to her previous years in the Senate.[10][11][12] She is generally pro-choice on abortion and supports non-federally funded embryonic stem cell research, although she has cast significant pro-life votes, including ones to ban partial-birth abortions. She is a member of the Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans For Choice, and The Wish List (Women in the Senate and House), a group of pro-choice women Republicans.

Murkowski is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[13]

The National Federation of Independent Business named Murkowski a Guardian of Small Business for her "outstanding" voting record on behalf of small business owners.[14]

Alaska Native issues[edit]

Murkowski has helped protect and ensure that health care is delivered by the 100 percent Native American-owned and controlled Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and a network of tribally operated hospitals and clinics in rural Alaska hubs and villages.[citation needed] Murkowski is an active member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and served as Vice Chair of the Committee during the 110th Congress. She is the Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a member of the Committee on Appropriations, and has a continuing role on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. In 2009, she was honored with a Congressional Leadership Award by the National Congress of American Indians.[15] She is the first Alaskan to receive the award.[15]


Murkowski opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; she voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[16] and she voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[17] Murkowski has stated numerous times that she would like to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Murkowski voted for H.R. 976, which called for the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide coverage for additional uninsured children.[18] That bill passed both the House and the Senate, but was vetoed by President George W. Bush. She supports health care reforms in her native state as well, largely because health care costs for Alaskans are up to 70% higher than costs in the contiguous United States.[citation needed]

Matthew Shepard hate crimes bill[edit]

Murkowski was one of five Republican senators who voted with Democrats for the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.[19]

Energy and environment[edit]

Murkowski is currently the Ranking Member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She has given her support to efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).[20] For the 109th Congress, Republicans for Environmental Protection, a group dedicated to environmental causes, gave Murkowski a rating of 2%, noting that in 2006 she voted against S.C. Resolution 83, intended to bolster energy security and lower energy-related environmental impacts, against an amendment to S. 728 that would make the Army Corps of Engineers more accountable for the environmental and economic impacts of their projects, for oil drilling in ANWR, for offshore oil and gas drilling.[21]

Murkowski believes that recent technological developments have made drilling safer and more economical.[22]

Murkowski introduced a bill that would block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from limiting the amount of greenhouse gases that major industries can produce. In a statement, Murkowski said, "We cannot turn a blind eye to the EPA's efforts to impose back-door climate regulations with no input from Congress."[23]

In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Murkowski opposed a bill that would have raised the liability cap for oil spills from $75 million to $10 billion. She said that such a large cap would jeopardize various businesses, and that exposing companies to greater risk would make it impossible for smaller companies to compete.[24]

Don't ask don't tell[edit]

Murkowski supported the repeal of don't ask, don't tell after careful consideration of the Department of Defense report. "Our military leaders have made a compelling case that they can successfully implement a repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'," she said. "It is infinitely preferable for Congress to repeal the law, and allow the service chiefs to develop and execute a new policy, than to invite a court-ordered reversal of the law with no allowance for a military-directed implementation. I've heard from Alaskans across the state who believe it's time to end this discriminatory policy, and I agree with them."[25] On December 18, 2010, Murkowski was one of eight Senate Republicans to vote in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, and one of only four who had voted for cloture.[26][27][28][29][30][31]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

In 2004, Senator Murkowski voted in favor of a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.[32] She said that would also support an Alaska state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman and that each state should have the right to establish its definition of marriage.[32] Murkowski voted for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2006.[33] According to her spokesman, she wanted to protect the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman that Alaskans added to their state constitution in 1998.[33]

On March 27, 2013, Murkowski said that her opinion on same-sex marriage was "evolving".[34] She said she noticed that the country's views on marriage are changing, noting conversations with her children and their friends as an example.[34] She said the country had more important issues to focus on than same-sex marriage.[34] On June 19, 2013, Murkowski announced her support of same-sex marriage,[35] citing the encouragement of family values and Alaskans' favor of limiting government's power.[36] She became the third sitting Republican United States senator to do so after Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois.[37]


In July 2007, Murkowski stated she would sell back land she bought from Anchorage businessman Bob Penney, a day after a Washington watchdog group filed a Senate ethics complaint against her, alleging that Penney sold the property well below market value.[38] The Anchorage Daily News noted, "The transaction amounted to an illegal gift worth between $70,000 and $170,000, depending on how the property was valued, according to the complaint by the National Legal and Policy Center."[38] According to the Associated Press, Murkowski bought the land from two developers tied to the Ted Stevens probe.[39]

In 2008, Murkowski amended her Senate financial disclosures for 2004 through 2006, adding income of $60,000 per year from the sale of a property in 2003, and more than $40,000 a year from the sale of her "Alaska Pasta Company" in 2005.[40][41]

Political campaigns[edit]

Murkowski, while a member of the state House, was appointed by her father, Governor Frank Murkowski, to his own unexpired Senate seat in December 2002, which he had vacated after being elected governor. The appointment caused a controversy in the state, and eventually resulted in a referendum that stripped the governor of his power to directly appoint replacement Senators.[42]


Murkowski was elected to a full six-year term against former Governor Tony Knowles in the 2004 election, after winning a primary challenge by a large margin. The two were in a dead heat in polls. The centrist Republican Main Street Partnership, which wanted to run TV ads for Murkowski, was told there was no air time left to buy.[43] Near the end of the general campaign, senior senator Ted Stevens shot campaign ads for Murkowski and warned the public that if a Democrat replaced Murkowski they were likely to receive fewer federal dollars.


Murkowski faced the most difficult election of her career in the August 24, 2010, Republican Party primary election against Joe Miller, a former U.S. magistrate judge[44] supported by former Governor Sarah Palin.[45][46] The initial ballot count for the primary showed her trailing Miller by a margin of 51–49%, with absentee ballots yet to be tallied.[47] After the first round of absentee ballots were counted on August 31, Murkowski conceded the race, stating that she did not believe that Miller's lead would be overcome in the next round of absentee vote count.[48][49]

Following the outcome of the primary election, the Murkowski campaign floated the idea of her running as a Libertarian in the general election.[50] But on August 29, 2010, the executive board of the state Libertarian Party voted not to consider allowing Murkowski on its ticket for the U.S. Senate race.[51]

On September 17, 2010, Murkowski said that she would mount a write-in campaign for the Senate seat.[52] Her write-in campaign was aided in large part with substantial monetary aid and assistance from the Native corporations and PACs, as well as support from state teachers and firefighters unions.[53]

On November 17, 2010, it was reported by the Associated Press that Murkowski became the first Senate candidate in more than 50 years to win a write-in campaign, thereby retaining her seat.[54] Murkowski emerged victorious after a two-week count of write-in ballots showed she had overtaken Miller.[55][56] Miller did not concede defeat.[56] U.S. Federal District Judge Ralph Beistline granted an injunction to stop the certification of the election due to "serious" legal issues and irregularities raised by Miller as to the hand count of absentee ballots.[57] On December 10, 2010 an Alaskan judge dismissed Miller's case clearing the way for Murkowski's win;[58] however, Miller appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, and the results were not certified.[59] On Dec. 28, 2010, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline dismissed Miller's lawsuit. Murkowski was certified as the winner on December 30 by Gov. Sean Parnell.[60]

Electoral history[edit]

United States Senate election in Alaska, 2004[61]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Lisa Murkowski (Incumbent) 149,446 48.62
Democratic Tony Knowles 139,878 45.51
Independent Marc J. Millican 8,857 2.88
Alaskan Independence Jerry Sanders 3,765 1.22
Green Jim Sykes 3,039 0.99
Libertarian Scott A. Kohlhaas 1,237 0.40
Independent Ted Gianoutsos 726 0.24
United States Senate Republican primary results, 2010[62]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Joe Miller 55,878 50.91%
Republican Lisa Murkowski (Incumbent) 53,872 49.09%
Totals 109,750 100%
United States Senate election in Alaska, 2010[63][64][65]
Party Candidate Votes %
Write-in Lisa Murkowski (Incumbent) (Write-In) 101,091 39.49%
Republican Joe Miller 90,839 35.49%
Democratic Scott McAdams 60,045 23.46%
Libertarian David Haase 1,459 0.57%
Independent Timothy Carter 927 0.36%
Independent Ted Gianoutsos 458 0.18%
Write-in Other write-in votes 1,143 0.44%
Invalid or blank votes 2,784 1.08%
Totals 258,746 100%
Voter turnout 52.3%

Personal life[edit]

Murkowski is married to Verne Martell.[66] They have two children, Nicolas and Matthew.[67] Her father, Frank Murkowski, was Governor of Alaska from 2002 to 2006 in addition to being her immediate predecessor in the Senate.[68]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  3. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  4. ^ Huma Kahn (November 17, 2010). "Lisa Murkowski Makes History, Wins Alaska Senate Race But Joe Miller Not Conceding". ABC News. 
  5. ^ Yardley, William. "Murkowski Wins Alaska Senate Race." The New York Times. 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2014-11-13.
  6. ^ "MURKOWSKI, Lisa - Biographical Information". Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  7. ^ "murkowski". Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  8. ^ "Notable Pi Beta Phis in Government and Politics". Pi Beta Phi. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  9. ^ Bolstad, Erika (2010-10-02). "Alaska". McClatchy Newspapers. Retrieved 2010-10-04. After she passed the bar exam, Murkowski worked from 1987 to 1989 as an attorney in the Anchorage District Court Clerk 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List". Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  14. ^ "U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski Honored as Guardian of Small Business by NFIB". Alaska Business Monthly. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Alaska Federation of Natives, Inc.: 2010 AFN Convention. Resolution 10-02" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  16. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  17. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  18. ^ ", Congressional votes database, 110th Congress, 1st session, Senate vote 307". Washington Post. 2007-08-02. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  19. ^ Fulford, James: Hate Crimes Bill Passes–Five Republicans Voted For It. 17 July 2009
  20. ^ "League of Conservation Voters". Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  21. ^ "Republicans for Environmental Protection 2006 Scorecard". Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  22. ^ "United States Senator Lisa Murkowski". Retrieved 2010-06-20. [dead link]
  23. ^ "Colorado companies blast Murkowski's bid to block EPA on greenhouse gases". Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  24. ^ Clark, Lesley. "Alaska's Murkowski blocks Senate on higher oil spill liability". Retrieved 2010-06-20. [dead link]
  25. ^ [1][dead link]
  26. ^ "smit9187: Collins, Snowe, Kirk, Voinovich, Burr, Ensign, Brown, Murkowski joined the". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  27. ^ "Senate passes ‘don’t ask,’ sends repeal to Obama - Arizona News from USA Today". 2010-12-18. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  28. ^ "Snowe, Collins join majority in repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME". 2010-12-18. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  29. ^ "Eight Republicans back ‘don’t ask’ repeal - Shira Toeplitz". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  30. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  31. ^ "Senate Vote 281 - Repeals ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". The New York Times. 
  32. ^ a b "Alaska senators vote for ban on gay marriages". Associated Press ( July 16, 2004. 
  33. ^ a b Ruskin, Liz (June 7, 2006). "Alaska senators quietly back marriage amendment". SitNews (Ketchikan, Alaska). 
  34. ^ a b c Tunseth, Matt (March 27, 2013). "Murkowski's gay marriage views 'evolving'". Chugiak-Eagle River Star (Eagle River, Alaska). 
  35. ^ Murkowski, Lisa (June 19, 2013). "Murkowski Shares Thoughts on Marriage Equality with Alaskans: The Pursuit of Happiness – Without Government Interference" (Press release). 
  36. ^ Camia, Catalina (June 19, 2013). "Murkowski becomes 3rd GOP senator for gay marriage". USA Today. 
  37. ^ Blake, Aaron (June 19, 2013). "Murkowski becomes third GOP senator to back gay marriage". The Washington Post. 
  38. ^ a b "Murkowski to sell back Kenai property". Anchorage Daily News. July 26, 2007. Archived from the original on August 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  39. ^ "Stevens' aide said to testify in probe". Baltimore Sun. August 1, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. [dead link]
  40. ^ Kate Klonick, "Murkowski Reveals Two More Murky Deals in Financial Disclosure Amendments", TalkingPointsMemo, June 17, 2008
  41. ^ Lisa Murkowski Exposed In Kenai River Land Scam, Alaska Report, July 20, 2007
  42. ^ Weigel, David. "Right Now - Murkowski challenger hints at Palin endorsement". Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  43. ^ Crucial Senate races costly, caustic
  44. ^ "Joe Miller - Restoring Liberty". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  45. ^ Bohrer, Becky (2010-08-24). "Murkowski in close contest for Alaska Senate". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-08-25. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski trailed her lesser-known conservative opponent Tuesday in a surprisingly tight race that was seen as a test of the political power of Sarah Palin and the tea party movement. [dead link]
  46. ^ Cave, Damien (2010-08-25). "Murkowski of Alaska Locked in a Tight Senate Race". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-25. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, whose family has held a decades-long grip on one of the state's two Senate seats, was in a surprisingly tight race Wednesday morning against an insurgent candidate, a Tea Party favorite who received the backing of Sarah Palin. 
  47. ^ "State of Alaska 2010 Primary Election, August 24, 2010 Unofficial Results". Alaska Secretary of State. 2010-08-25. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  48. ^ Cockerham, Sean (2010-08-31). "It's another Tea Party win as Alaska's Murkowski concedes". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 2010-09-01. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski late Tuesday conceded the Republican primary election to Joe Miller, the Tea-Party backed challenger who maintained his Election Day lead after thousands of additional absentee and other ballots were counted through the day. 
  49. ^ Joling, Dan (August 31, 2010). "Murkowski Concedes Alaska Primary Race". WBBM-TV. Associated Press. 
  50. ^ Memoli, Michael A. (2010-08-27). "Libertarians an option for Murkowski". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2010-08-28. The state Libertarian Party told the Anchorage Daily News that it was open to the possibility of nominating Murkowski as a third-party candidate, a notion that her campaign is not embracing but has not ruled out. 
  51. ^ Cockerham, Sean (2010-09-07). "Libertarians cool to Murkowski candidacy". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  52. ^ Bohrer, Becky (2010-09-18). "Murkowski mounting write-in bid for Alaska Senate". Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-09-18. Murkowski faces tough odds with her write-in candidacy. She has lost support from members within the Republican establishment, who are backing the Republican nominee, Joe Miller. 
  53. ^ Murphy, Kim (2010-11-18). "Lisa Murkowski claims victory in Alaska Senate election". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  54. ^ Bohrer, Becky (2010-11-17). "Murkowski Defeats Miller in 2010 Alaska Senate Race". Huffington Post. 
  55. ^ Cillizza, Chris (2010-11-17) "Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski wins write-in bid, AP says", The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
  56. ^ a b AP staff reporter (November 17, 2010). "AP: Murkowski Wins Alaska Senate Race". NPR. Associated Press. 
  57. ^ "Federal Judge Halts Certification of Alaska Senate Election as Miller Eyes Lawsuit". Fox News. AP. 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  58. ^ Brad Knickerbocker. "Joe Miller-Lisa Murkowski US Senate race appears to be over". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  59. ^ "Article 3670". The Washington Post. 2010-12-13. [dead link]
  60. ^ By LISA DEMER "Court rejects Miller, lifts certification hold: 2010 Alaska U.S. Senate election | Alaska news at". Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  61. ^ GEMS ELECTION RESULTS[dead link]
  62. ^ "State of Alaska 2010 Primary Election, August 24, 2010, Unofficial Results". Alaska Secretary of State. 2010-08-31. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  63. ^ "State of Alaska 2010 General Election Unofficial Results". December 28, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  64. ^ "State of Alaska 2010 General Election November 2, 2010 Official Results". December 28, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  65. ^ "AK US Senate". Our Campaigns. November 27, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  66. ^ "Murkowski-Martell". Anchorage Daily News. August 14, 1987. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  67. ^ Bighash, Leila (October 2010). "Is Lisa Murkowski Married?". Politics Daily. AOL News. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  68. ^ "Alaska's Political Dynasty". The New York Times. December 24, 2002. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Frank Murkowski
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Alaska
December 20, 2002 – present
Served alongside: Ted Stevens, Mark Begich
Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank Murkowski
Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from Alaska
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Joe Miller
Preceded by
John Thune
Vice-Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
Succeeded by
John Barrasso
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Maria Cantwell
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Saxby Chambliss