Frank Murkowski

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Frank Murkowski
Frank murkowski full.jpg
Murkowski in 1992
8th Governor of Alaska
In office
December 2, 2002 – December 4, 2006
LieutenantLoren Leman
Preceded byTony Knowles
Succeeded bySarah Palin
United States Senator
from Alaska
In office
January 3, 1981 – December 2, 2002
Preceded byMike Gravel
Succeeded byLisa Murkowski
3rd Alaska Commissioner of Economic Development
In office
December 5, 1966 – December 7, 1970
GovernorWally Hickel
Keith Miller
Preceded byWilliam Dickson
Succeeded byEverett Buness
Personal details
Frank Hughes Murkowski

(1933-03-28) March 28, 1933 (age 89)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Nancy Gore
(m. 1954)
Children6, including Lisa
EducationSeattle University (BS)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Coast Guard
Years of service1955–1957

Frank Hughes Murkowski (born March 28, 1933) is an American politician and a member of the Republican Party. He was a United States Senator from Alaska from 1981 until 2002 and the eighth governor of Alaska from 2002 until 2006. In his 2006 re-election bid, he finished in third place in the Republican primary behind Sarah Palin and John Binkley. Murkowski is notable for having appointed his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, to replace him in the U.S. Senate after he resigned his Senate seat to become governor of Alaska.

Early life and education[edit]

Murkowski was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of Helen (née Hughes) and Frank M. Murkowski.[1] His paternal grandfather was of Polish descent.[2] Murkowski attended Ketchikan High School in Alaska, graduating in 1951. He studied at Santa Clara University from 1951 to 1953, and earned a BS in economics from Seattle University in 1955. He joined the United States Coast Guard in the summer of 1955 and served until 1957 – the year his daughter Lisa was born. He was stationed in Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska, and aboard the cutters Sorrel and Thistle.


After a stint at Pacific National Bank and further study at Pacific Coast Banking School, Murkowski became Alaska's youngest commissioner at the time when he was appointed Commissioner of Economic Development, aged 33, and was elevated to the presidency of the Alaska National Bank of the North in 1971. He has also headed the Alaska Bankers Association and – in 1977 -[3] the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce.[4]

He ran for Alaska's sole U.S. House seat in 1970, but was defeated by Democratic state Senator Nick Begich.[5]

U.S. Senate[edit]

Murkowski with President Ronald Reagan in 1986
Murkowski and his wife stand behind Vice President Dan Quayle and Marilyn Quayle as they express their appreciation to airmen who served in the Persian Gulf area during Operation Desert Storm on May 18, 1991
Murkowski with Rick Santorum. Larry Craig, and Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2001

He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980, defeating Democratic candidate Clark Gruening, with the help of Ronald Reagan's popularity. He won with 54% of the vote.[5] He was re-elected in 1986, 1992, and 1998. During his time in the Senate, he was most notable as Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee from 1995 to 2001. As chair, he argued and attempted unsuccessfully to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

Murkowski had an anti-abortion record in the Senate.[6] He also opposed gun control and affirmative action.[6]

In a floor statement in the Senate, regarding the ban of homosexuals serving in the military, Murkowski stated that homosexuals have a right to choose their lifestyle, but there exists no right to serve. In his opposition to lifting the ban, his speech focused on the cost effect on the Veterans Administration in treating service members infected with HIV.[7] His daughter and successor in the Senate, Lisa Murkowski, voted to repeal the ban on homosexuals in the armed services, and later became the third Republican Senator to endorse the legalization of same-sex marriage while in office.[8]


Murkowski, Senator Ted Stevens, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, State Senator Gary Wilken, and former State Senator John Binkley cut the ribbon dedicating a memorial to the Alaska-Siberia Lend Lease program in Fairbanks, Alaska on August 26, 2006
Murkowski with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2011

Murkowski was elected governor on November 5, 2002, receiving nearly 56% of the vote, the highest percentage for any Republican gubernatorial nominee in Alaska history up until that point.[9] He succeeded Democrat Tony Knowles and took office on December 2, 2002.

Upon his inauguration, he resigned his Senate seat and appointed his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, the Majority Leader-designate of the Alaska House of Representatives, in his place. The appointment was widely criticized as an act of nepotism.

Toward the end of his administration he brokered a deal for a gas pipeline that was never considered, in final form, by the legislature. Murkowski threatened to sign the deal without legislative approval, but the legislature successfully brought a lawsuit to enjoin him from doing so.

Governor Murkowski ran for re-election in 2006, but came in third behind former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin and Alaska businessman John Binkley in the Republican primary election on August 22, 2006 (Palin winning with 51% and Binkley taking second with 30% to Murkowski's 19%). Murkowski's margin of defeat was the largest in any Republican primary by an incumbent governor in United States history.[10] Murkowski left office with one of the nation's worst approval ratings of 19%.[11][12]

On March 4, 2008, Murkowski's former chief-of-staff, Jim Clark admitted that he was aware that Veco Corp had paid $10,000 for a political poll to gauge the popularity of then-incumbent Governor Murkowski. Clark was charged with "honest services fraud". Before he was sentenced, the US Supreme Court ruled that the statute was drafted with unconstitutional vagueness and henceforth will only cover "fraudulent schemes to deprive another of honest services through bribes or kickbacks supplied by a third party who ha[s] not been deceived." Since Clark was guilty of neither bribes nor kickbacks, all charges were voided.

In all 28 years of public service, Murkowski spent two years in the armed services, 22 years as Alaska's junior senator in D.C. and four years as governor.

Murkowski considered attempting a return to the governorship in the 2018 election, but ultimately decided against it.[13]

Jet plane scandal[edit]

In 2005, despite opposition from the Alaska Legislature, Murkowski purchased a Westwind II jet with state money for $2.7 million.[14] This purchase became the symbol of his unpopular legacy in state politics, so much so that his successor, Sarah Palin, promised to sell the jet once she became governor.[15]

Electoral history[edit]


  1. ^ Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "TPG: Murkowski". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  2. ^ "Frank Murkowski".
  3. ^ "Murkowski, Frank Hughes". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  4. ^ "Sen. Frank Murkowski". CBS. September 8, 1998. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Sen. Frank Murkowski". CBS News.
  6. ^ a b Seelye, Katharine (December 21, 2002). "New Alaska Governor Gives Daughter His Seat in Senate". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  7. ^ "Congressional Record 103rd Congress (1993-1994) FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT OF 1993 (Senate – February 4, 1993)". THOMAS. Library of Congress. Retrieved June 12, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Senate Vote 281 – Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". The New York Times. December 18, 2010. Archived from the original on October 27, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
  9. ^ Fellow Republican Sean Parnell won around 59% in 2010.
  10. ^ State of Alaska Division of Elections: "2006 Primary Election Results." Archived September 24, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved March 16, 2007.
  11. ^ "AK Gov". SurveyUSA. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  12. ^ Skelley, Geoffrey. "A Failure to Launch? Kansas' Republican Gubernatorial Contest and the History of Incumbent Governor Primary Performance – Sabato's Crystal Ball". Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  13. ^ Herz, Nathaniel (June 12, 2018). "Frank Murkowski seriously considered running for Alaska governor again". KTOO. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  14. ^ Yardley, William (August 25, 2007). "Jet That Helped Defeat an Alaska Governor Is Sold". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  15. ^ "Governor travel shot up with Murkowski's jet, plummets with Palin". Juneau Empire. Retrieved June 20, 2010.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Alaska
(Class 3)

1980, 1986, 1992, 1998
Succeeded by
Lisa Murkowski
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Sarah Palin
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Alaska
Served alongside: Ted Stevens
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Energy Committee
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Sarah Palin
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Senator Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Senator
Succeeded byas Former US Senator