Lisa Murkowski

Last updated
Lisa Murkowski
Lisa Murkowski official photo.jpg
United States Senator
from Alaska
Assumed office
December 20, 2002
Servingwith Dan Sullivan
Preceded by Frank Murkowski
Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Designate
Assuming office
TBD
(no sooner than January 20, 2021)
Succeeding Joe Manchin
Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
In office
January 3, 2015 TBD
(no later than January 20, 2021)
Preceded by Mary Landrieu
Succeeded by Joe Manchin (designate)
Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference
In office
June 17, 2009 September 17, 2010
Leader Mitch McConnell
Preceded by John Thune
Succeeded by John Barrasso
Member of the AlaskaHouseofRepresentatives
from the 14th district
In office
January 19, 1999 December 20, 2002
Preceded by Terry Martin
Succeeded by Vic Kohring
Personal details
Born
Lisa Ann Murkowski

(1957-05-22) May 22, 1957 (age 63)
Ketchikan, Territory of Alaska, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)
Verne Martell
(m. 1987)
Children2
Father Frank Murkowski
Education Georgetown University (BA)
Willamette University (JD)
Signature LisaMurkowskiSignature.png
Website Senate website

Lisa Ann Murkowski ( /mɜːrˈksk/ merr-KOW-skee; born May 22, 1957) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Alaska, having held that seat since 2002. Murkowski is the second-most senior Republican woman in the Senate, after Susan Collins from Maine. Like Collins, Murkowski is often described as one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate and a crucial swing vote.

Contents

Murkowski is the daughter of former U.S. Senator and Governor of Alaska Frank Murkowski. Before her appointment to the Senate, she served in the Alaska House of Representatives and was elected majority leader. She was appointed to the U.S. Senate by her father, who resigned his seat in December 2002 to become governor of Alaska. Murkowski completed her father's unexpired Senate term, which ended in January 2005.

Murkowski ran for and won a full term in 2004. After losing the 2010 Republican primary to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller, Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate and defeated both Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams in the general election. She is the second U.S. Senator (after Strom Thurmond in 1954) to be elected by write-in vote. Murkowski was elected to a third term in 2016. She has never won a majority of the vote in any of her three U.S. Senate races, only pluralities.

Early life, education, and early career

Murkowski was born in Ketchikan in the Territory of Alaska, the daughter of Nancy Rena (née Gore) and Frank Murkowski. [1] Her paternal great-grandfather was of Polish descent, and her mother's ancestry is Irish and French Canadian. [2] As a child, she and her family moved around the state with her father's job as a banker.

She earned a B.A. degree in economics from Georgetown University in 1980, the same year her father was elected to the U.S. Senate. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority [3] and represented Alaska as the 1980 Cherry Blossom Princess. [4] She received her J.D. degree in 1985 from Willamette University College of Law. [5]

Murkowski worked as an attorney in the Anchorage District Court Clerk's office from 1987 to 1989. [6] From 1989 to 1998, she was an attorney in private practice in Anchorage. She served on the Mayor's Task Force for the Homeless from 1990 to 1991. [7]

Alaska House of Representatives

In 1998, Murkowski was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives. Her District 18 included northeast Anchorage, Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force Base (now Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or JBER), and suburban parts of Eagle River-Chugiak. In 1999, she introduced legislation establishing a Joint Armed Services Committee. She was reelected in 2000 and, after her district boundaries changed, in 2002. That year she had a conservative primary opponent, Nancy Dahlstrom, who challenged her because Murkowski supported abortion rights and rejected conservative economics. Murkowski prevailed by 56 votes. [8] [9] She was named as House Majority Leader for the 2003–04 legislative session. She resigned her House seat before taking office, due to her appointment by her father to the seat he had vacated in the U.S. Senate, upon his stepping down to assume the Alaska governorship. [10] Murkowski sat on the Alaska Commission on Post Secondary Education and chaired both the Labor and Commerce and the Military and Veterans Affairs Committees. After she resigned to join the U.S. Senate, her father appointed Dahlstrom, the District Republican committee's choice, as her replacement. [9]

U.S. Senate

Appointment

In December 2002, Murkowski—while a member of the state House—was appointed by her father, Governor Frank Murkowski, to fill his own U.S. Senate seat made vacant when he resigned from the Senate after being elected governor.

The appointment caused controversy in Alaska. Many voters disapproved of the nepotism. Her appointment eventually resulted in a referendum that stripped the governor of his power to directly appoint replacement Senators. [11] Sarah Palin was particularly upset, because she had interviewed for the seat but had been rejected. [8]

Elections

Murkowski in 2005 Lisa Murkowski 1.jpg
Murkowski in 2005

Murkowski has won three full terms to the Senate, but has never won a majority of the vote; she won 48.6% of the vote in 2004, 39.5% in 2010, and 44.4% in 2016. [12]

2004

Murkowski ran for a full Senate term against former Governor Tony Knowles in the 2004 election after winning a primary challenge by a large margin. She was considered vulnerable due to the controversy over her appointment, and polling showed the race was very close. The centrist Republican Main Street Partnership, which wanted to run TV ads for Murkowski, was told no airtime was left to buy. [13] Near the end of the campaign, senior U.S. Senator Ted Stevens shot ads for Murkowski and claimed that if a Democrat replaced Murkowski, Alaska would likely receive fewer federal dollars.[ citation needed ] Murkowski defeated Knowles by a narrow margin.

2010

Murkowski faced the most difficult election of her career in the August 24, 2010, Republican Party primary election against Joe Miller, a former U.S. magistrate judge [14] supported by former Governor Sarah Palin. [15] [16] The initial results showed her trailing Miller, 51–49%, with absentee ballots yet to be tallied. [17] After the first round of absentee ballots were counted on August 31, Murkowski conceded, saying that she did not believe that Miller's lead could be overcome in the next round of absentee vote counting. [18] [19]

After the primary, the Murkowski campaign floated the idea of her running as a Libertarian in the general election. [20] But on August 29, 2010, the state Libertarian Party executive board voted not to consider Murkowski as its Senate nominee. [21]

On September 17, 2010, Murkowski said that she would mount a write-in campaign for the Senate seat. [22] Her campaign was aided in large part by substantial monetary assistance from Native corporations and PACs, as well as state teachers' and firefighters' unions. [23]

On November 17, 2010, the Associated Press reported that Murkowski had become only the second Senate candidate (after Strom Thurmond in 1954) to win a write-in campaign, thereby retaining her seat. [24] [25] She emerged victorious after a two-week count of write-in ballots showed she had overtaken Miller. [26] [27] Miller did not concede. [27] U.S. Federal District Judge Ralph Beistline granted an injunction to stop the certification of the election due to "serious" legal issues and irregularities Miller raised about the hand count of absentee ballots. [28] On December 10, 2010, an Alaskan judge dismissed Miller's case, clearing the way for Murkowski, [29] but on December 13, Miller appealed the Alaska Superior Court decision of the previous week to the Alaska Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court rejected Miller's appeal on December 22. [30] On December 28, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline dismissed Miller's lawsuit. Governor Sean Parnell certified Murkowski as the winner on December 30. [31]

2016

After securing the Republican Party nomination by a wide margin, Murkowski was again reelected to the Senate in 2016. Joe Miller, this time the Libertarian Party nominee, was again the runner-up.

The election was unusual in featuring a Libertarian Party nominee who endorsed the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, running against a Republican incumbent who did not. [32] The Libertarian vice-presidential nominee, former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, endorsed Murkowski, citing Miller's support for Trump and "devoted social conservative" views as incompatible with libertarianism.

2022

In 2017, Murkowski filed to run for a fourth term in 2022. [33]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Tenure and political positions

Murkowski is considered a moderate Republican. [35] [36] Since she was reelected in 2010, some have deemed her voting record "more moderate" than that of her previous years in the Senate. [37] In 2013, the National Journal gave Murkowski a composite score of 56% conservative and 45% liberal [38] and ranked her the 56th most liberal and 44th most conservative member of the Senate. [39]

According to GovTrack, Murkowski is the second most liberal Republican senator and, as of 2017, is placed by GovTrack's analysis to the left of all Republicans except Susan Collins, and to the left of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. [40] The New York Times arranged Republican senators by ideology and also ranked Murkowski the second most liberal Republican. [41] [42] According to FiveThirtyEight, which tracks Congressional votes, she voted with Trump's position approximately 74% of the time as of April 2020. [43] According to CQ Roll Call, Murkowski voted with President Barack Obama's position 72.3% of the time in 2013, one of only two Republicans voting for his positions over 70% of the time. [44]

In 2018, she voted "present" on the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States as a favor to Senator Steve Daines. [45] In 2020, she voted against procedural motions to accelerate Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to that court, though she later voted to confirm Barrett. [46]

In a March 2019 op-ed for The Washington Post , Murkowski and Joe Manchin wrote that climate change debate in Congress was depicted as "an issue with just two sides—those who support drastic, unattainable measures to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and those who want to do nothing" and affirmed their support for "adopting reasonable policies that maintain that edge, build on and accelerate current efforts, and ensure a robust innovation ecosystem." [47]

In December 2020, during his lame-duck period, Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. [48] The veto left new Coast Guard cutters that were scheduled to be homeported in Alaska without port facilities to maintain them. [48] Murkowski issued a press release that said, in part, "It’s incredible that the President chose to veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act, particularly because his reason for doing so is an issue not related to national defense." [48]

Following the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, Murkowski said Trump should resign for inciting the insurrection. With this call for Trump's resignation, she became the first Republican in the Senate to say that Trump should leave office early before the inauguration of Joe Biden. When asked whether she would remain a Republican, she replied, "if the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me." [49]

Electoral history

Alaska House of Representatives, District 14, Republican primary results, 1998 [50]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Lisa Murkowski 830 65.6
Republican Mike Miller43634.4
Total votes1,266 100
Alaska House of Representatives, District 14, election results, 1998 [51]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Lisa Murkowski 2,676 96.5
Write-ins963.5
Total votes2,772 100
Alaska House of Representatives, District 14, Republican primary results, 2000 [52]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Lisa Murkowski (incumbent) 368 100
Total votes368 100
Alaska House of Representatives, District 14, election results, 2000 [53]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Lisa Murkowski (incumbent) 3,828 96.4
Write-ins1453.6
Total votes3,973 100
Alaska House of Representatives, District 18, Republican primary results, 2002 [54]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Lisa Murkowski 486 53.1
Republican Nancy A. Dahlstrom 42946.9
Total votes915 100
Alaska House of Representatives, District 18, election results, 2002 [52]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Lisa Murkowski 2,231 93.3
Write-ins1616.7
Total votes2,392 100
United States Senate Republican primary results in Alaska, 2004 [55]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Lisa Murkowski (incumbent) 45,710 58.1
Republican Mike Miller29,31337.3
Republican Wev Shea2,8573.6
Republican Jim Dore7480.9
Total votes78,628 100
United States Senate election in Alaska, 2004 [56]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Republican Lisa Murkowski (incumbent) 149,446 48.62
Democratic Tony Knowles 139,87845.51
Independent Marc J. Millican8,8572.88
Alaskan Independence Jerry Sanders3,7651.22
Green Jim Sykes 3,0390.99
Libertarian Scott A. Kohlhaas1,2370.40
Independent Ted Gianoutsos7260.24
Total votes306,948 100
United States Senate Republican primary results, in Alaska, 2010 [57]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Joe Miller 55,878 50.91
Republican Lisa Murkowski (incumbent)53,87249.09
Total votes109,750 100
United States Senate election in Alaska, 2010 [58]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Write-in Lisa Murkowski (incumbent) 101,091 39.49
Republican Joe Miller 90,83935.49
Democratic Scott McAdams 60,04523.46
Libertarian David Haase1,4590.57
Independent Timothy Carter9270.36
Independent Ted Gianoutsos4580.18
Write-in Other write-in votes1,1430.44
Invalid or blank votes2,7841.08
Total votes258,746 100
Turnout 52.3
United States Senate Republican primary results, in Alaska, 2016 [59]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Lisa Murkowski 39,545 71.52%
Republican Bob Lochner8,48015.34%
Republican Paul Kendall4,2727.73%
Republican Thomas Lamb2,9965.42%
Total votes55,293 100.00%
United States Senate election in Alaska, 2016 [60]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Lisa Murkowski (incumbent) 138,149 44.36
Libertarian Joe Miller 90,82529.16
Independent Margaret Stock 41,19413.23
Democratic Ray Metcalfe 36,20011.62
Independent Breck A. Carter2,6090.84
Independent Ted Gianoutsos1,7580.56
Write-in Write-in votes7060.23
Invalid or blank votes5,3631.69
Total votes316,804 100
Turnout 59.9

Personal life

Lisa Murkowski and Verne Martell pose with Jeff King during the ceremonial start of the 2019 Iditarod. Iditarod Ceremonial Start. Fur Rondy 2019 (Lisa Murkowski and Verne Martell with Jeff King).jpg
Lisa Murkowski and Verne Martell pose with Jeff King during the ceremonial start of the 2019 Iditarod.

Murkowski is married to Verne Martell. [61] They have two children, Nicolas and Matthew. [62] Murkowski is Roman Catholic. [63]

Property sale controversy

In July 2007, Murkowski said she would sell back land she bought from Anchorage businessman Bob Penney, a day after a Washington watchdog group filed a Senate ethics complaint against her alleging that Penney sold the property well below market value. [64] The Anchorage Daily News wrote, "The transaction amounted to an illegal gift worth between $70,000 and $170,000, depending on how the property was valued, according to the complaint by the National Legal and Policy Center." [64] According to the Associated Press, Murkowski bought the land from two developers tied to the Ted Stevens probe. [65]

In 2008, Murkowski amended her Senate financial disclosures for 2004 through 2006, adding income of $60,000 per year from the sale of a property in 2003, and more than $40,000 a year from the sale of her "Alaska Pasta Company" in 2005. [66]

See also

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Alaska House of Representatives
Preceded by
Terry Martin
Member of the Alaska House of Representatives
from the 14th district

1999–2002
Succeeded by
Vic Kohring
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Frank Murkowski
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Alaska
2002–present
Served alongside: Ted Stevens, Mark Begich, Dan Sullivan
Incumbent
Preceded by
Craig Thomas
Ranking Member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee
2007–2009
Succeeded by
John Barrasso
Preceded by
Pete Domenici
Ranking Member of the Senate Energy Committee
2009–2015
Succeeded by
Maria Cantwell
Preceded by
Mary Landrieu
Chair of the Senate Energy Committee
2015–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank Murkowski
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Alaska
(Class 3)

2004
Succeeded by
Joe Miller
Preceded by
Joe Miller
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Alaska
(Class 3)

2016
Most recent
Preceded by
John Thune
Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference
2009–2010
Succeeded by
John Barrasso
Order of precedence
Preceded by
John Cornyn
United States Senators by seniority
18th
Succeeded by
Lindsey Graham