List of Governors of Alaska

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Governor of Alaska
Bill Walker inauguration speech.jpg
Bill Walker

since December 1, 2014
Residence Alaska Governor's Mansion
Term length Four years, can succeed self once
Inaugural holder William Allen Egan
Formation January 3, 1959
Deputy Byron Mallott
Salary $145,000 (2013)[1]

The Governor of Alaska is the chief executive of the State of Alaska. The governor is the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces (including the Alaska National Guard and Alaska State Defense Force), The governor is also the head of the executive branch of Alaska's state government and has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Alaska Legislature,[2] to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of impeachment.[3]

Nine people have served as governor of the State of Alaska over 11 distinct terms, though Alaska had over 30 civilian and military governors during its long history as a United States territory. Only one governor was born in Alaska. Two people, William Allen Egan and Wally Hickel, have been elected to multiple non-consecutive terms as governor. Hickel is also noted for a rare third party win in American politics, having been elected to a term in 1990 representing the Alaskan Independence Party. The longest-serving governor of the state was Egan, who was elected three times and served nearly 12 years. The longest-serving territorial governor was Ernest Gruening, who served 13½ years.

The current governor is Bill Walker, who took office on December 1, 2014.


Alaska was purchased by the United States from Russia in 1867, with formal transfer occurring on October 18, 1867, which is now celebrated as Alaska Day.[4] Prior to then, it was known as Russian America or Russian Alaska, controlled by the governors and general managers of the Russian-American Company.

Commanders of the Department of Alaska[edit]

The vast region was initially designated the Department of Alaska, under the jurisdiction of the Department of War and administered by U.S. Army officers until 1877, when the Army was withdrawn from Alaska. The Department of the Treasury then took control, with the Collector of Customs as the highest ranking federal official in the territory. In 1879, the U.S. Navy was given jurisdiction over the department.[5]

Some believe the first American administrator of Alaska was Polish immigrant Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski. However, the Anchorage Daily News was unable to find any conclusive information to support this claim.[6]

Commander Took office Left office
United States Army
Col. Jefferson C. Davis October 18, 1867 August 31, 1870
Capt. George K. Brady September 1, 1870 September 22, 1870
Maj. John C. Tidball September 23, 1870 September 19, 1871
Maj. Harvey A. Allen September 20, 1871 January 3, 1873
Maj. Joseph Stewart January 4, 1873 April 20, 1874
Capt. George R. Rodney April 21, 1874 August 16, 1874
Capt. Joseph B. Campbell August 17, 1874 June 14, 1876
Maj. John Mendenhall June 15, 1876 March 4, 1877
Capt. Arthur Morris March 5, 1877 June 14, 1877
United States Department of the Treasury
Montgomery P. Berry June 14, 1877 August 13, 1877
H.C. DeAhna August 14, 1877 March 26, 1878
Mottrom D. Ball March 27, 1878 June 13, 1879
United States Navy
Capt. Lester A. Beardslee June 14, 1879 September 12, 1880
Cmdr Henry Glass September 13, 1880 August 9, 1881
Cmdr. Edward P. Lull August 10, 1881 October 18, 1881
Cmdr. Henry Glass October 19, 1881 March 12, 1882
Cmdr. Frederick Pearson March 13, 1882 October 3, 1882
Cmdr. Edgar C. Merriman October 4, 1882 September 13, 1883
Cmdr. Joseph Coghlan September 15, 1883 September 13, 1884
Lt. Cmdr. Henry E. Nichols September 14, 1884 September 15, 1884

Governors of the District of Alaska[edit]

On May 17, 1884, the Department of Alaska was redesignated the District of Alaska, an incorporated but unorganized territory with a civil government. The governor was appointed by the President of the United States.

Governor Took office Left office Appointed by
Kinkead, John HenryJohn Henry Kinkead July 4, 1884 May 7, 1885 Arthur, Chester A.Chester A. Arthur
Swineford, Alfred P.Alfred P. Swineford May 7, 1885 April 20, 1889 Cleveland, GroverGrover Cleveland
Knapp, Lyman EnosLyman Enos Knapp April 20, 1889 June 18, 1893 Harrison, BenjaminBenjamin Harrison
Sheakley, JamesJames Sheakley June 18, 1893 June 23, 1897 Cleveland, GroverGrover Cleveland
Brady, John GreenJohn Green Brady June 23, 1897 March 2, 1906[a] McKinley, WilliamWilliam McKinley
Hoggatt, Wilford BaconWilford Bacon Hoggatt March 10, 1906[8] May 20, 1909 Roosevelt, TheodoreTheodore Roosevelt
Clark, Walter EliWalter Eli Clark May 20, 1909 April 18, 1913 Taft, William HowardWilliam Howard Taft

Governors of the Territory of Alaska[edit]

The District of Alaska was organized into Alaska Territory on August 24, 1912. Governors continued to be appointed by the President of the United States. During World War II, parts of the Aleutian Islands were occupied by Imperial Japan from June 5, 1942, to June 28, 1943.

Governor Took office Left office Appointed by Notes
Strong, John Franklin AlexanderJohn Franklin Alexander Strong April 18, 1913 April 12, 1918 Wilson, WoodrowWoodrow Wilson [b]
Riggs, Jr., ThomasThomas Riggs, Jr. April 12, 1918 June 16, 1921 Wilson, WoodrowWoodrow Wilson
Bone, Scott CordelleScott Cordelle Bone June 16, 1921 August 16, 1925 Harding, Warren G.Warren G. Harding
Parks, George AlexanderGeorge Alexander Parks August 16, 1925 April 19, 1933 Coolidge, CalvinCalvin Coolidge
Troy, John WeirJohn Weir Troy April 19, 1933 December 6, 1939 Roosevelt, Franklin DelanoFranklin Delano Roosevelt
Gruening, ErnestErnest Gruening December 6, 1939 April 10, 1953 Roosevelt, Franklin DelanoFranklin Delano Roosevelt [c]
Heintzleman, B. FrankB. Frank Heintzleman April 10, 1953 January 3, 1957 Eisenhower, Dwight D.Dwight D. Eisenhower [d]
Hendrickson, Waino EdwardWaino Edward Hendrickson January 3, 1957 April 8, 1957 Acting [e]
Stepovich, MikeMike Stepovich April 8, 1957 August 9, 1958 Eisenhower, Dwight D.Dwight D. Eisenhower [f]
Hendrickson, Waino EdwardWaino Edward Hendrickson August 9, 1958 January 3, 1959 Acting [e]

Governors of the State of Alaska[edit]

Alaska was admitted to the Union on January 3, 1959.

The state constitution provides for the election of a governor and lieutenant governor every four years on the same ticket, with their terms commencing on the first Monday in the December following the election.[13] Governors are allowed to succeed themselves once, having to wait four years after their second term in a row before being allowed to run again.[14] Should the office of governor become vacant, the lieutenant governor assumes the title of governor.[15] The original constitution of 1956 created the office of secretary of state, which was functionally identical to a lieutenant governor, and was renamed to "lieutenant governor" in 1970.[16]

There have been six governors from the Republican Party, five from the Democratic Party, and one, Wally Hickel, who was elected under the Alaskan Independence Party during his second period in office. Many Republicans were unhappy with the choice of Arliss Sturgulewski as their party's candidate for governor in the 1990 election, and Hickel was able to attract their votes. However, he never held the AIP's secessionist ideals, and switched back to the Republican Party eight months before his term ended.


      Alaskan Independence (1)[g]       Democratic (5)[h]       Independent (1)       Republican (7)[g]

#[i] Governor Term start Term end Party Lieutenant Governor[j] Terms[k]
1   William Allen Egan January 3, 1959 December 5, 1966 Democratic   Hugh Wade 2
2 Wally Hickel December 5, 1966 January 29, 1969 Republican Keith Harvey Miller 12[l]
3 Keith Harvey Miller January 29, 1969 December 7, 1970 Republican Robert W. Ward 12[m]
1 William Allen Egan December 7, 1970 December 2, 1974 Democratic H. A. Boucher 1
4 Jay Hammond December 2, 1974 December 6, 1982 Republican Lowell Thomas, Jr. 2
Terry Miller
5 Bill Sheffield December 6, 1982 December 1, 1986 Democratic Stephen McAlpine 1
6 Steve Cowper December 1, 1986 December 3, 1990 Democratic Stephen McAlpine 1
2 Wally Hickel December 3, 1990 December 5, 1994 Alaskan Independence Jack Coghill[n] 1[o]
7 Tony Knowles December 5, 1994 December 2, 2002 Democratic Fran Ulmer 2
8 Frank Murkowski December 2, 2002 December 4, 2006 Republican Loren Leman 1
9 Sarah Palin December 4, 2006 July 26, 2009 Republican Sean Parnell 12[p]
10 Sean Parnell July 26, 2009 December 1, 2014 Republican Craig Campbell[q] 1 12[r]
Mead Treadwell
11 Bill Walker December 1, 2014 Incumbent Independent Byron Mallott 1[s]

Other high offices held[edit]

Five of Alaska's governors have served other high offices, including a Secretary of the Interior, a Governor of Nevada, and three members of the U.S. Congress, although only two represented Alaska. One (marked with *) resigned his office to be the Secretary of the Interior, and one (marked with dagger) resigned his position as senator to take office as governor.

Governor Gubernatorial term Other offices held Source
Kinkead, John HenryJohn Henry Kinkead 1884–1885 Governor of Nevada [22]
Sheakley, JamesJames Sheakley 1893–1897 Representative from Pennsylvania [23]
Gruening, ErnestErnest Gruening 1939–1953 Senator from Alaska [24]
Hickel, WallyWally Hickel 1966–1969
Secretary of the Interior* [25]
Murkowski, FrankFrank Murkowski 2002–2006 Senator from Alaskadagger [26]

Living former U.S. governors of Alaska[edit]

As of May 2015, there are seven former U.S. governors of Alaska who are currently living at this time, the oldest U.S. governor of Alaska being Keith Harvey Miller (1969–1970, born 1925). The most recent death of a former U.S. governor of Alaska was that of Mike Stepovich (1957–1958), who died on February 14, 2014, whilst the most recently serving U.S. governor of Alaska to die was Wally Hickel (1966–1969, 1990–1994), who died on May 7, 2010.

Governor Gubernatorial term Date of birth (and age)
Keith Harvey Miller 1969–1970 (1925-03-01) March 1, 1925 (age 90)
Bill Sheffield 1982–1986 (1928-06-26) June 26, 1928 (age 87)
Steve Cowper 1986–1990 (1938-08-21) August 21, 1938 (age 77)
Tony Knowles 1994–2002 (1943-01-01) January 1, 1943 (age 72)
Frank Murkowski 2002–2006 (1933-03-28) March 28, 1933 (age 82)
Sarah Palin 2006–2009 (1964-02-11) February 11, 1964 (age 51)
Sean Parnell 2009–2014 (1962-11-19) November 19, 1962 (age 52)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Forced to resign due to his involvement with the fraudulent Reynolds–Alaska Development Company.[7]
  2. ^ Resigned on request after it was discovered he was still a Canadian citizen.[9]
  3. ^ During most of World War II, Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., was the military commander of Alaska, and held much executive power over the territory.[10]
  4. ^ Resigned; was reportedly unhappy with the job, and did not expect to be reappointed.[11]
  5. ^ a b As secretary of Alaska, acted as governor for remainder of term.[12]
  6. ^ Resigned to run for U.S. Senate, losing that election.[12]
  7. ^ a b Includes one partial term served by a repeat governor, who also represented another party during this term.
  8. ^ Includes one term served by a repeat governor.
  9. ^ The official numbering omits repeat governors, as Sean Parnell is stated to be the 10th governor.[17] Subsequent terms for repeat governors are marked with their original number italicized.
  10. ^ The office of lieutenant governor was named secretary of state until 1970.[16]
  11. ^ The fractional terms of some governors are not to be understood absolutely literally; rather, they are meant to show single terms during which multiple governors served, due to resignations, deaths and the like.
  12. ^ Resigned to become United States Secretary of the Interior.
  13. ^ As secretary of state, filled unexpired term.
  14. ^ Represented the Alaskan Independence Party.
  15. ^ Hickel was elected as a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, and switched to the Republican party in April 1994.[18]
  16. ^ Resigned, citing the costs of "frivolous" ethics investigations.[19]
  17. ^ Campbell's position was termed "Temporary Substitute Lieutenant Governor[20] until he was confirmed by the Alaska Legislature on August 10, 2009.[21]
  18. ^ As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term and was subsequently elected in his own right.
  19. ^ Governor Walker's first full term expires December 3, 2018; he is not yet term limited.


  1. ^ "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries". The Council of State Governments. June 25, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  2. ^ AK Const. art. II, § 15
  3. ^ AK Const. art. III
  4. ^ "State Symbols". Alaska Office of Economic Development. Retrieved August 26, 2008. 
  5. ^ Gates p. 86
  6. ^ Ruskin, Liz (2002-12-20). "Barking up the wrong Pole: Hero wasn't governor". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved August 26, 2008. 
  7. ^ Janson, Lone (1975). The Copper Spike. Alaska Northwest Publishing Co. p. 44. ISBN 0-88240-045-2. 
  8. ^ "New Governor of Alaska". New York Times. March 11, 1906. p. 5. 
  9. ^ Gruening, Ernest (1973). Many Battles: The Autobiography of Ernest Gruening. Liveright. p. 216. ISBN 0-87140-565-2. 
  10. ^ Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. University of Washington Press. 1997. p. 319. ISBN 0-295-97558-X. 
  11. ^ Naske, Claus-M. (1985). A History of Alaska Statehood. University Press of America. p. 244. ISBN 0-8191-4556-4. 
  12. ^ a b Naske, Claus-M.; Herman E. Slotnick (1979). Alaska: A History of the 49th State. Eerdmans. p. 309. ISBN 0-8028-7041-4. 
  13. ^ AK Const. art. III, § 4
  14. ^ AK Const. art. III, § 5
  15. ^ AK Const. art. III, § 11
  16. ^ a b "Article 3 – The Executive". The Alaska Constitution. Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. Retrieved August 2, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Sean Parnell, 10th Governor of Alaska". State of Alaska. Retrieved December 8, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Alaska's Gov. Hickel Rejoins Gop Amid Speculation Over Another Term". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. April 15, 1994. Retrieved September 28, 2008. 
  19. ^ Cockerham, Sean (July 7, 2009). "Palin says ethics investigations were paralyzing". Anchorage Daily News. 
  20. ^ "Campbell Becomes Temporary Substitute LG". State of Alaska. July 26, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2010. 
  21. ^ "House Journal, Alaska State Legislature, Twenty-Sixth Legislature, First Special Session". State of Alaska. August 10, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Nevada Governor John Henry Kinkead". National Governor's Association. Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
  23. ^ "Sheakley, James". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved August 13, 2008. 
  24. ^ "Gruening, Ernest". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved August 13, 2008. 
  25. ^ "Alaska Governor Walter J. Hickel". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 15, 2008. 
  26. ^ "Murkowski, Frank Hughes". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved August 13, 2008. 

External links[edit]