Frank Murkowski

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The Honorable
Frank Murkowski
Frank Murkowski, 105th Congress photo.jpg
8th Governor of Alaska
In office
December 2, 2002 – December 4, 2006
Lieutenant Loren D. Leman
Preceded by Tony Knowles
Succeeded by Sarah Palin
United States Senator
from Alaska
In office
January 3, 1981 – December 2, 2002
Preceded by Mike Gravel
Succeeded by Lisa Murkowski
3rd Alaska Commissioner of Economic Development
In office
Preceded by William M. Dickson
Succeeded by Everett W. Buness
Personal details
Born Frank Hughes Murkowski
(1933-03-28) March 28, 1933 (age 88)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Nancy Rena Murkowski
(née Gore, m. 1954)
Children Carol Victoria Sturgulewski
(b. ca. 1956)
Lisa Murkowski
(b. 1957)
Michael Francis Murkowski
(b. ca. 1959)
Eileen Marie Van Wyhe
(b. 1960)
Mary Catherine Judson
(b. ca. 1961)
Brian Patrick Murkowski
(b. ca. 1968)
Residence Fairbanks, Alaska, U.S.
Alma mater University of Santa Clara
Seattle University
Profession Banker, Politician
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Service/branch United States Coast Guard
Years of service 1955-1957

Frank Hughes Murkowski (/mərˈkski/; 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.

Early life and career

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. Studying at Santa Clara University from 1951 to 1953, he gained a BS in economics from Seattle University in 1955. Thereafter, he served in the United States Coast Guard until 1957 – the same year his daughter Lisa was born. 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 Democrat Nick Begich.[5]

U.S. Senate

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 a pro-life record in the Senate, opposing abortion.[6] He also opposes gun control and affirmative action.[6]

In a floor statement in the Senate, regarding the bar of homosexuals serving in the military, Mr. 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 was elected governor on November 5, 2002, receiving nearly 56% of the vote, the highest percentage for any gubernatorial candidate 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. His opponents derided the appointment 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 Fairbanks 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%).[10] Murkowski left office with one of the nation's worst approval ratings of 19%.[11]

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.

Jet plane scandal

In 2005, in spite of opposition from the Alaska Legislature, Murkowski purchased a Westwind II jet with state money for $2.7 million.[12] 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.[13]

Electoral history


  1. Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "TPG: Murkowski". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved August 21, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Murkowski, Frank Hughes". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved August 21, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Alaska Governor Frank H. Murkowski". National Governors Association. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1
  6. 6.0 6.1 Seelye, Katharine (December 21, 2002). "New Alaska Governor Gives Daughter His Seat in Senate". New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Senate Vote 281 – Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". The New York Times. December 18, 2010. Retrieved June 12, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Fellow Republican Sean Parnell won around 59% in 2010.
  10. State of Alaska Division of Elections: "2006 Primary Election Results.". Retrieved March 16, 2007.
  11. "AK Gov". SurveyUSA. Retrieved June 20, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Yardley, William (August 25, 2007). "Jet That Helped Defeat an Alaska Governor Is Sold". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Governor travel shot up with Murkowski's jet, plummets with Palin". Juneau Empire. Retrieved June 20, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Mike Gravel
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Alaska
Served alongside: Ted Stevens
Succeeded by
Lisa Murkowski
Political offices
Preceded by
Alan K. Simpson
Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
Alan Cranston
Preceded by
J. Bennett Johnston
Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Succeeded by
Jeff Bingaman
Preceded by
Tony Knowles
Governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Sarah Palin
Party political offices
Preceded by
C.R. Lewis
Republican nominee for United States Senator from Alaska
(Class 3)

1980, 1986, 1992, 1998
Succeeded by
Lisa Murkowski
Preceded by
John Howard Lindauer
Alaska Republican gubernatorial nominee
Succeeded by
Sarah Palin