Sean Parnell

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Sean Parnell
Former Governor of Alaska Sean Parnell.jpg
10th Governor of Alaska
In office
July 26, 2009 – December 1, 2014
Lieutenant Craig Campbell
Mead Treadwell
Preceded by Sarah Palin
Succeeded by Bill Walker
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 53)
Hanford, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sandra Scebold (1987–present)
Children Grace
Alma mater Pacific Lutheran University
University of Puget Sound
Religion Nondenominational Christianity[1]

Sean R. Parnell (born November 19, 1962) is an American politician. Parnell, a Republican, succeeded to the office of Governor of Alaska in 2009 when Governor Sarah Palin resigned. [2][3] Parnell was sworn into office on July 26, 2009. He served as the tenth Governor of Alaska from 2009 to 2014. Parnell was elected Governor of Alaska in his own right in 2010 by 59.06% of the vote -- the largest percentage margin of any Alaska governor since statehood. [4] In 2014, he narrowly lost his bid for re-election and returned to work in the private sector.[5]

Born in Hanford, California, Parnell is a graduate from the University of Puget Sound's School of Law (now known as Seattle University School of Law). He practiced law before being elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1992 and he continued to work in private legal practice while he was a member of the Alaska House and later, the Alaska Senate. He served two terms in the Alaska House from 1993 to 1997 before he was elected to one term in the Alaska Senate from 1997 to 2001. Parnell continued his legal career in the private sector, working as an attorney and as the state government relations director for Phillips Petroleum (Alaska) (now known as ConocoPhillips Alaska) and an attorney at the law firm Patton Boggs.

Returning to public service, Parnell won the Republican primary race for lieutenant governor in 2006 and became Sarah Palin's running mate in her 2006 gubernatorial campaign, where the Palin-Parnell ticket 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 Representative Ethan Berkowitz in the general election. Parnell is the first unelected Alaska Governor to be elected in his own right.[6] He was narrowly defeated for a second term in 2014 by the "unity ticket" of Republican-turned-Independent Bill Walker and Democrat Byron Mallott.

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.[7] Two of his paternal great-grandparents were Norwegian.[8]

Sean's father, Pat, 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 United States House of Representatives, taking 25.82% of the vote.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

Legal career[edit]

Sean Parnell worked as an attorney in the private sector from 1987 through 2003, and again from 2005-2006. For nine years of that time, he owned his own law practice. He continued in private practice while he served in the Alaska House and the Alaska Senate. When Parnell left the Alaska Senate, he became director of government relations in Alaska for the oil company Phillips Petroleum Alaska, which later became ConocoPhillips.[12] In 2005, he joined the law firm Patton Boggs, where he exclusively practiced law.[13] Patton Boggs represented ExxonMobil in the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation.[14]

In April 2005, Washingtonian and the Dallas Morning News both reported that Patton Boggs was the first in revenue among lobbyists.[15] Parnell left Patton Boggs less than two years later on December 3, 2006. In March 2007, he was hired to advise Governor Sarah Palin on issues related to commercializing Alaska North Slope gas.[16][17]

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.[18]

Parnell was endorsed by Sarah Palin,[19] National Review magazine,[20] and the fiscally conservative 501(c)4 organization Club for Growth.[21]

On July 31, 2008, Parnell told Roll Call he would not drop out in his race against Young to run against Senator Ted Stevens, who had been indicted.[22]

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.[citation needed]

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.[23] 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.[24]

2014 campaign[edit]

Parnell ran for reelection in 2014.[25] Former Republican Bill Walker challenged 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.[26] He conceded the election to Bill Walker on November 15, 2014.

Parnell drew criticism during his reelection campaign over his support of billions in tax reductions for the petrochemical industry as well scandals regarding accusations of coverups of sexual abuse scandals, cronyism, corruption and whistleblower suppression, within the Alaska National Guard.[27][28][29]

Out of 19 Republican Governors, Parnell and Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett were the only Republican Governors who lost the 2014 elections.


  1. ^ Drake, Bruce. "What Is Sean Parnell's Religion?". Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Palin stepping down this month. CNN, July 3, 2009.
  3. ^ Blumenthal, Mitchell L.; Phillips, Kate (July 3, 2009). "Palin to Resign as Governor of Alaska". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ "State of Alaska Division of Elections 2010 General Election Results". State of Alaska Division of Elections. November 30, 2010. 
  5. ^ "State of Alaska Division of Elections 2014 General Election Results". State of Alaska Division of Elections. November 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ Election 2010: Alaska Results – NPR 10-3-2010
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Sean Parnell genealogical profile,; accessed November 7, 2014.
  9. ^ [1], Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 4, 1980, page 3, Clerk of the House of Representatives; retrieved October 9, 2014.
  10. ^ Governor Sean Parnell profile,; accessed November 7, 2014.
  11. ^ Alaska Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell's profile,; accessed November 7, 2014.
  12. ^ Yardley, William. "Sean Parnell news". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Sean Parnell: Alaska's New Governor". Time. Retrieved 2015-08-03. 
  14. ^ "Who is Sean Parnell?". Juneau Empire. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  15. ^ April 2006 Patton Boggs press release
  16. ^ The Village Voice "The Book of Sarah (Palin)" by Wayne Barrett, October 8, 2008.
  17. ^ News release by the lobbying firm Paton Boggs, June 13, 2005.
  18. ^ Josh Kraushaar, "Alaska Lieutenant Governor Announces Primary Run Against Young", CBS News, March 14, 2008.
  19. ^ R.A. Dillon, "Washington Anti-Earmark Group Endorses Parnell", Daily News Miner, Fairbanks, AK, June 6, 2008; accessed November 7, 2014.
    NOTE: Partially accessed by archives search on January 5, 2011; full access requires registration and fee.
    "He also has the backing of fiscally conservative Gov. Sarah Palin."
  20. ^ "Don Young's Wrong Way", National Review, April 1, 2008; accessed August 4, 2008.
  21. ^ Josh Kraushaar, "Club for Growth endorses challenger to Young",, June 6, 2008; accessed August 4, 2008.
  22. ^ Shira Toeplitz, "Parnell Won't Switch to Alaska Senate Race", Roll Call, July 31, 2008; accessed August 4, 2008.
  23. ^ "Gov Palin to resign her office". KTUU-TV. Retrieved 2009-07-03.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  24. ^ "Election Night 2010: Incumbents Parnell and Young Re-Elected, Possibly Murkowski",, March 10, 2010.
  25. ^ Pat Forgey; Alaska Dispatch (May 4, 2013). "Neither Democrats nor Republicans shocked Parnell is running again". 
  26. ^ "Walker, Mallott to join forces in governor's race". Alaska Dispatch News. September 1, 2014. Retrieved September 2, 2014. 
  27. ^ Jill Burke and Richard Mauer,, "Parnell defends handling of Alaska National Guard dysfunction, plans more firings", Alaska Dispatch News, October 2, 2014; retrieved October 3, 2014.
  28. ^ Jill Burke and Richard Mauer, Parnell waited years to take direct action on National Guard misconduct, Alaska Dispatch News, October 1, 2014; retrieved October 3, 2014.
  29. ^ Caslon Hatch, "Debate draws standing-room-only crowd",, July 23, 2014; retrieved October 3, 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
Succeeded by
Bill Walker
Party political offices
Preceded by
Sarah Palin
Republican nominee for Governor of Alaska
2010, 2014
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