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 two governors, William Allen Egan and Bill Walker, were born in Alaska. Two people, 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.

Governors before statehood

Jefferson C. Davis, first commander of the Department of Alaska

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

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under the jurisdiction of the Department of War and administered by U.S. Army officers until 1877, when the Army was withdrawn from Alaska.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]

# Image Commander Took office Left office
United States Army
1 Jefferson C. Davis.jpg Col. Jefferson C. Davis October 18, 1867 August 31, 1870
2 George Keyports Brady.jpg Capt. George K. Brady September 1, 1870 September 22, 1870
3 Tidball BVT BG John C 1865.jpg Maj. John C. Tidball September 23, 1870 September 19, 1871
4 No image.svg Maj. Harvey A. Allen September 20, 1871 January 3, 1873
5 No image.svg Maj. Joseph Stewart January 4, 1873 April 20, 1874
6 No image.svg Capt. George B. Rodney, Jr. April 21, 1874 August 16, 1874
7 No image.svg Capt. Joseph B. Campbell August 17, 1874 June 14, 1876
8 No image.svg Maj. John Mendenhall June 15, 1876 March 4, 1877
9 No image.svg Capt. Arthur Morris March 5, 1877 June 14, 1877
United States Department of the Treasury
10 No image.svg Montgomery P. Berry June 14, 1877 August 13, 1877
11 No image.svg H.C. DeAhna August 14, 1877 March 26, 1878
12 No image.svg M. D. Ball March 27, 1878 June 13, 1879
United States Navy
13 Lester A Beardslee.jpg Capt. Lester A. Beardslee June 14, 1879 September 12, 1880
14 Henry Glass.jpg Cmdr Henry Glass September 13, 1880 August 9, 1881
15 No image.svg Cmdr. Edward P. Lull August 10, 1881 October 18, 1881
16 Henry Glass.jpg Cmdr. Henry Glass October 19, 1881 March 12, 1882
17 No image.svg Cmdr. Frederick Pearson March 13, 1882 October 3, 1882
18 No image.svg Cmdr. Edgar C. Merriman October 4, 1882 September 13, 1883
19 75px Cmdr. Joseph Coghlan September 15, 1883 September 13, 1884
20 No image.svg Lt. Cmdr. Henry E. Nichols September 14, 1884 September 15, 1884

Governors of the District of Alaska

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.

# Portrait Governor Term in office Appointed by
1 John Henry Kinkead.gif John Henry Kinkead July 4, 1884 – May 7, 1885 Chester A. Arthur
2 Alfred P. Swineford.jpg Alfred P. Swineford May 7, 1885 – April 20, 1889 Grover Cleveland
3 Lyman Enos Knapp.jpg Lyman Enos Knapp April 20, 1889 – June 18, 1893 Benjamin Harrison
4 McLaurin(1902) pic.109 Governor SHEAKLEY.jpg James Sheakley June 18, 1893 – June 23, 1897 Grover Cleveland
5 John G Brady.jpg John Green Brady June 23, 1897 – March 2, 1906[lower-alpha 1] William McKinley
6 Wilford B Hoggatt.jpg Wilford Bacon Hoggatt March 10, 1906[8] – May 20, 1909 Theodore Roosevelt
7 Portrait of Walter Eli Clark.jpg Walter Eli Clark May 20, 1909 – August 24, 1912 William Howard Taft

Governors of the Territory of Alaska

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.

# Portrait Governor Term in office Appointed by
1 Portrait of Walter Eli Clark.jpg Walter Eli Clark August 24, 1912 – April 18, 1913 William Howard Taft
2 John Franklin Alexander Strong.jpg John Franklin Alexander Strong April 18, 1913 – April 12, 1918[lower-alpha 2] Woodrow Wilson
3 Thomas Christmas Riggs, Jr.jpg Thomas Riggs, Jr. April 12, 1918 – June 16, 1921
4 75px Scott Cordelle Bone June 16, 1921 – August 16, 1925 Warren G. Harding
5 George Alexander Parks.jpg George Alexander Parks August 16, 1925 – April 19, 1933 Calvin Coolidge
6 75px John Weir Troy April 19, 1933 – December 6, 1939 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
7 Ernest Gruening (D-AK).jpg Ernest Gruening[lower-alpha 3] December 6, 1939 – April 10, 1953
8 75px B. Frank Heintzleman April 10, 1953 – January 3, 1957[lower-alpha 4] Dwight D. Eisenhower
Waino Hendrickson.png Waino Hendrickson January 3, 1957 – April 8, 1957 Acting[lower-alpha 5]
9 Mike Stepovich.png Mike Stepovich April 8, 1957 – August 9, 1958[lower-alpha 6] Dwight D. Eisenhower
Waino Hendrickson.png Waino Hendrickson August 9, 1958 – January 3, 1959 Acting[lower-alpha 5]

Governors of the State of Alaska

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.

      Democratic (4)       Republican (7)       Alaskan Independence (1)[lower-alpha 7]       Independent (1)

[lower-alpha 8]
Portrait Governor Term in office Party Term
[lower-alpha 9]
Previous office Lieutenant Governor
[lower-alpha 10]
1 75px   William A. Egan     January 3, 1959    

    December 5, 1966    
Democratic 1
Alaska Territorial Senator   Hugh Wade
2 Hickel.gif Wally Hickel December 5, 1966

January 29, 1969
Republican 3
[lower-alpha 11]
None Keith Harvey Miller
3 75px Keith Harvey Miller January 29, 1969

December 7, 1970
Republican Secretary of State of Alaska Robert W. Ward
1 75px William A. Egan December 7, 1970

December 2, 1974
Democratic 4
Governor of Alaska H. A. Boucher
4 Jay Hammond.jpg Jay Hammond December 2, 1974

December 6, 1982
Republican 5
Mayor of Bristol Bay Borough Lowell Thomas, Jr.
Terry Miller
5 Bill Sheffield 1989.jpg Bill Sheffield December 6, 1982

December 1, 1986
Democratic 7
None Stephen McAlpine
6 Steve Cowper 1990.jpg Steve Cowper December 1, 1986

December 3, 1990
Democratic 8
Alaska Representative
2 Hickel.gif Wally Hickel December 3, 1990

December 5, 1994
Alaskan Independence 9
United States Secretary of the Interior Jack Coghill[lower-alpha 12]
Republican[lower-alpha 13]
7 GovTonyKnowles.jpg Tony Knowles December 5, 1994

December 2, 2002
Democratic 10
Mayor of Anchorage Fran Ulmer
8 Frank Murkowski, 105th Congress photo.jpg Frank Murkowski December 2, 2002

December 4, 2006
Republican 12
United States Senator from Alaska Loren Leman
9 Sarah Palin by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg Sarah Palin December 4, 2006

July 26, 2009
Republican 13
[lower-alpha 14]
Chairperson of the AOGCC Sean Parnell
10 Sean Parnell Elmendorf crop.jpg Sean Parnell July 26, 2009

December 1, 2014
Republican Lieutenant Governor of Alaska Craig Campbell[lower-alpha 15]
Mead Treadwell
11 Bill Walker inauguration speech.jpg Bill Walker December 1, 2014

Independent 15
[lower-alpha 16]
Mayor of Valdez Byron Mallott[lower-alpha 17]

Other high offices held

Five of Alaska's governors have served other high offices, including one Cabinet member and one governor of another state. Three were members of the U.S. Congress, although only two represented Alaska.

Governor Other offices held Source
John Henry Kinkead Governor of Nevada [22]
James Sheakley Representative from Pennsylvania [23]
Ernest Gruening Senator from Alaska [24]
Wally Hickel Secretary of the Interior [25]
Tony Knowles Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska [26]
Frank Murkowski Senator from Alaska [27]

Living former governors

There are seven living former governors of Alaska, the oldest being Keith Harvey Miller. The most recent death of a former governor was that of Mike Stepovich (1957-1958) on February 14, 2014. The most recently serving governor to die was Wally Hickel (1966-1969 & 1990-1994) on May 7, 2010.

Governor Years in office Date of birth (and age)
Keith Harvey Miller 1969–1970 (1925-03-01) March 1, 1925 (age 97)
Bill Sheffield 1982–1986 (1928-06-26) June 26, 1928 (age 94)
Steve Cowper 1986–1990 (1938-08-21) August 21, 1938 (age 84)
Tony Knowles 1994–2002 (1943-01-01) January 1, 1943 (age 79)
Frank Murkowski 2002–2006 (1933-03-28) March 28, 1933 (age 89)
Sarah Palin 2006–2009 (1964-02-11) February 11, 1964 (age 58)
Sean Parnell 2009–2014 (1962-11-19) November 19, 1962 (age 60)

See also


  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. 5.0 5.1 As secretary of Alaska, acted as governor for remainder of term.[12]
  6. Resigned to run for United States Senate, losing that election.[12]
  7. Includes one partial term served by a repeat governor, who also represented another party during this term.
  8. 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.
  9. Each term for which a governor is elected is listed here; if multiple governors served in a single term, due to resignations, deaths, and the like, then that term will be shared among those governors. If a governor was elected multiple times, then there will be multiple terms listed for that governor.
  10. The office of lieutenant governor was named secretary of state until 1970.[16]
  11. Hickel resigned to become United States Secretary of the Interior. As secretary of state, Miller became governor.
  12. Represented the Alaskan Independence Party.
  13. Hickel was elected as a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, and switched to the Republican party in April 1994.[18]
  14. Palin resigned, citing the costs of "frivolous" ethics investigations.[19] As lieutenant governor, Parnell became governor.
  15. Campbell's position was termed "Temporary Substitute Lieutenant Governor[20] until he was confirmed by the Alaska Legislature on August 10, 2009.[21]
  16. Governor Walker's first term expires December 3, 2018; he is not yet term limited.
  17. Represented the Democratic Party.


  1. "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries". The Council of State Governments. June 25, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. AK Const. art. II, § 15
  3. AK Const. art. III
  4. "State Symbols". Alaska Office of Economic Development. Retrieved August 26, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Janson, Lone (1975). The Copper Spike. Alaska Northwest Publishing Co. p. 44. ISBN 0-88240-045-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "New Governor of Alaska". New York Times. March 11, 1906. p. 5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Gruening, Ernest (1973). Many Battles: The Autobiography of Ernest Gruening. Liveright. p. 216. ISBN 0-87140-565-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Naske, Claus-M. (1985). A History of Alaska Statehood. University Press of America. p. 244. ISBN 0-8191-4556-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 Naske, Claus-M.; Herman E. Slotnick (1979). Alaska: A History of the 49th State. Eerdmans. p. 309. ISBN 0-8028-7041-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. AK Const. art. III, § 4
  14. AK Const. art. III, § 5
  15. AK Const. art. III, § 11
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Article 3 – The Executive". The Alaska Constitution. Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. Retrieved August 2, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Sean Parnell, 10th Governor of Alaska". State of Alaska. Retrieved December 8, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Alaska's Gov. Hickel Rejoins Gop Amid Speculation Over Another Term". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. April 15, 1994. Retrieved September 28, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Cockerham, Sean (July 7, 2009). "Palin says ethics investigations were paralyzing". Anchorage Daily News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Campbell Becomes Temporary Substitute LG". State of Alaska. July 26, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "House Journal, Alaska State Legislature, Twenty-Sixth Legislature, First Special Session". State of Alaska. August 10, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Nevada Governor John Henry Kinkead". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 14, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Alaska Governor Walter J. Hickel". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 15, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Alaska Governor Tony Knowles". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 6, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links