Sean Parnell

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Sean Parnell
Governor Sean Parnelll, Alaska.jpg
10th Governor of Alaska
Assumed office
July 26, 2009
Lieutenant Vacant (Jul.-Aug. 2009)
Craig Campbell (2009–10)
Mead Treadwell (2010– )
Preceded by Sarah Palin
9th Lieutenant Governor of Alaska
In office
December 4, 2006 – July 26, 2009
Governor Sarah Palin
Preceded by Loren Leman
Succeeded by Craig Campbell
Member of the Alaska Senate
from the 1st district
In office
January 13, 1997 – January 13, 2001
Preceded by Steve Rieger
Succeeded by John Cowdery
Member of the Alaska House of Representatives
from the 17th district
In office
January 11, 1993 – January 12, 1997
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by John Cowdery
Personal details
Born (1962-11-19) November 19, 1962 (age 51)
Hanford, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sandra Scebold (1987–present)
Children Grace
Residence Governor's Mansion
Alma mater Pacific Lutheran University (B.B.A.)
University of Puget Sound (J.D.)
Profession Lawyer
Religion Non-denominational Christian[1]
Website Official website

Sean R. Parnell (born November 19, 1962) is an American politician and the tenth and current Governor of Alaska. A member of the Republican Party, Parnell was sworn into office on July 26, 2009, succeeding Governor Sarah Palin after her resignation.[2][3]

Born in Hanford, California, Parnell is a graduate from the University of Puget Sound School of Law. Parnell entered private practice before being elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1992. He served two terms in the Alaska House from 1993 to 1997 when he was elected to one term in the Alaska Senate from 1997 to 2001. Parnell then entered the private sector as a lobbyist, becoming the Alaska government relations director for ConocoPhillips and an advisor at the lobbying firm Patton Boggs.

Returning to public service, Parnell was selected as the running mate to Sarah Palin's 2006 gubernatorial campaign, where they defeated former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles. Parnell was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Alaska in December 2006 and later assumed the governorship after Palin resigned in July 2009. Parnell was elected to a full term as Governor in 2010, defeating former State Senator Ethan Berkowitz in the general election. Parnell is the first unelected Alaska Governor to be elected in his own right.[4]

Early life, education, and law career[edit]

Sean Parnell was born in Hanford, California, the elder of two sons of Thelma Carol (née Liebherr) and Kevin Patrick "Pat" Parnell.[5] Two of his paternal great-grandparents were Norwegian.[6]

Pat Parnell was stationed at Fort Richardson, near Anchorage, Alaska, while in the U.S. Army in the late 1950s, and returned to Alaska with his family in 1973, establishing residence in Anchorage. He established a photocopy and office supply business alongside the busy Seward Highway in midtown Anchorage, while Thelma Parnell worked at Bartlett High School and East Anchorage High School, the latter a short distance from their home.

In 1980, Pat Parnell, a Democrat, ran against incumbent Don Young for Alaska's sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, taking 25.82% of the vote.[7]

Sean Parnell attended Pacific Lutheran University, earning his B.B.A. in 1984, and University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University School of Law) earning his law degree in 1987. He is admitted to the bar in both Alaska and Washington D.C.[citation needed]

Alaska legislature[edit]

In 1992, Parnell was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives, where he served two terms and was a member of the finance committee. In 1996, he ran for and was elected to a seat in the Alaska Senate. In the Senate, he was a member of the Energy Council and served on and then co-chaired the Senate finance committee.[8]

Lobbying career[edit]

Parnell left the Alaska Senate to become director of government relations in Alaska for the oil company ConocoPhillips.[9] In 2005, he joined the lobbying firm Patton Boggs, where he advised clients on state and federal regulations governing development of major oil and gas projects. Patton Boggs represented ExxonMobil in the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation.[10]

In April 2005, Washingtonian and the Dallas Morning News both reported that Patton Boggs was the first in revenue among lobbyists.[11] Parnell left Patton Boggs less than two years later on December 3, 2006[12] to advise Governor Sarah Palin on issues related to commercializing Alaska North Slope gas.[13][14]

Lieutenant governor[edit]

In 2005, Parnell ran in the Republican primary to become lieutenant governor. In the general election, he ran as Palin's running mate. In Alaska, the lieutenant governor runs separately from the governor in the primaries, but after the primaries, the nominees for governor and lieutenant governor run together as a slate. Palin and Parnell were elected.[citation needed]

2008 congressional campaign[edit]

On March 14, 2008, Parnell began his campaign to take on embattled 18-term Congress member Don Young in the August 26 Republican primary.[15]

Parnell was endorsed by Sarah Palin,[16] National Review magazine,[17] and the fiscally conservative 501(c)4 organization Club for Growth.[18]

On July 31, 2008, Parnell told Roll Call that he would not drop out in his race against Young to run against Senator Ted Stevens, who had been indicted.[19]

Parnell lost the primary for the U.S. House seat. The margin between Young, the incumbent, and Parnell was narrow, and the winner was not immediately clear. The result released on September 18 showed Young winning by 304 votes. Parnell said the odds of overturning Young's victory were too small to warrant a recount.[20]

Governor of Alaska[edit]

Ascent to office[edit]

Further information: Resignation of Sarah Palin
The "Hall of Governors" in the Alaska State Capitol showing Parnell, Palin, Frank Murkowski and others.

On July 26, 2009, halfway through her term as governor, Palin resigned. Parnell replaced her becoming Alaska's tenth governor in accordance with the Alaska Constitution.[2] Craig Campbell, commissioner of Alaska's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, succeeded Parnell as lieutenant governor after Joe Schmidt, commissioner of corrections and Palin's designated replacement for Parnell, refused the position.[citation needed]

2010 campaign[edit]

Parnell ran for a full term as governor in 2010. In the primary, he faced off against Bill Walker, a former mayor of Valdez, Alaska and aide to former governor Walter J. Hickel, and Ralph Samuels, a retiring member of the Alaska House of Representatives. Although Walker seemed to gain traction towards the end based on the issue of building a natural gas pipeline, Samuels and Walker split the anti-Parnell vote[citation needed] and Parnell won the nomination. He faced off against former House Majority Leader and 2008 Congressional nominee, Ethan Berkowitz.[21] and was elected with Mead Treadwell who had won the August primary for Lieutenant Governor. Parnell-Treadwell eventually defeated Berkowitz-Benson by over ten points.[22]

2014 campaign[edit]

Parnell is running for reelection in 2014.[23] Former Republican Bill Walker is challenging Parnell as an independent politician, and merged his campaign with Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Byron Mallott, who became Walker's running mate as an independent.[24]

Parnell's reelection campaign was rocked by his support of billions in tax reductions for the petrochemical industry and an exploding scandal featuring five years of alleged cover ups with regard to rampant sexual abuse, cronyism, corruption and whistleblower suppression, in the Alaska National Guard.[25][26][27]


  1. ^ Drake, Bruce. "What Is Sean Parnell's Religion?". Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Palin stepping down this month. CNN, 2009-07-03.
  3. ^ Blumenthal, Mitchell L.; Phillips, Kate (July 3, 2009). "Palin to Resign as Governor of Alaska". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Election 2010: Alaska Results NPR 10-3-2010
  5. ^ Metcalfe, Peter M., ed. (1991). "Legislative Branch". Alaska Blue Book (Tenth ed.). Juneau: Alaska Department of Education, Division of State Libraries, Archives and Museums. p. 111. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1], Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 4, 1980, page 3, Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  8. ^ Alaska Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell's profile
  9. ^ Yardley, William. "Sean Parnell news". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Who is Sean Parnell?". Juneau Empire. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  11. ^ April 2006 Patton Boggs press release
  12. ^ 2007 Parnell's public official financial disclosure statement[dead link] filed in March 2007.
  13. ^ The Village Voice "The Book of Sarah (Palin)" by Wayne Barrett, October 8, 2008
  14. ^ News release by the lobbying firm Paton Boggs June, 13, 2005
  15. ^ Alaska Lieutenant Governor Announces Primary Run Against Young, By Josh Kraushaar - CBS News
  16. ^ Washington Anti-Earmark Group Endorses Parnell. by R.A. Dillon. Fairbanks Daily News Miner. June 6, 2008. Partially accessed by archives search on Jan. 5, 2011, full access requires registration and fee. "He also has the backing of fiscally conservative Gov. Sarah Palin."
  17. ^ Don Young’s Wrong Way, National Review. April 1, 2008. Accessed Aug. 4, 2008.
  18. ^ Club for Growth endorses challenger to Young, By Josh Kraushaar, June 6, 2008. Accessed Aug. 4, 2008.
  19. ^ "Parnell Won’t Switch to Alaska Senate Race" By Shira Toeplitz, Roll Call. July 31, 2008. Accessed Aug. 4, 2008.
  20. ^ Anne Sutton, "No recount in GOP race for Alaska's House seat", Associated Press, September 18, 2008.[dead link]
  21. ^ "Gov Palin to resign her office". KTUU-TV. Retrieved 2009-07-03.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  22. ^ "Election Night 2010: Incumbents Parnell and Young Re-Elected, Possibly Murkowski", APRN, March 10, 2010
  23. ^ Pat Forgey; Alaska Dispatch (May 4, 2013). "Neither Democrats nor Republicans shocked Parnell is running again". 
  24. ^ "Walker, Mallott to join forces in governor's race". Alaska Dispatch News. September 1, 2014. Retrieved September 2, 2014. 
  25. ^ Parnell defends handling alaska national guard dysfunction, plans more firings, Alaska Dispatch News, Jill Burke and Richard Mauer, October 2, 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  26. ^ Parnell waited years to take direct action on National Guard misconduct, Alaska Dispatch News, Jill Burke and Richard Mauer, October 1, 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  27. ^ Debate draws standing-room-only crowd, KTUU, Caslon Hatch. July 23, 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Loren Leman
Lieutenant Governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Craig Campbell
Preceded by
Sarah Palin
Governor of Alaska
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Joe Biden
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Alaska
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise John Boehner
as Speaker of the House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jan Brewer
as Governor of Arizona
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Alaska
Succeeded by
Neil Abercrombie
as Governor of Hawaii