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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lisa Murkowski

Assumed office 
December 20, 2002
Serving with Mark Begich
Preceded by Frank Murkowski

Member of the
Alaska House of Representatives
from the 14th District
In office
1999 – 2002

Born May 22, 1957 (1957-05-22) (age 52)
Ketchikan, Alaska
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Verne Martell
Children Nic Martell
Matt Martell
Residence Anchorage, Alaska
Alma mater Willamette University College of Law (J.D.)
Georgetown University (B.A.)
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Lisa Ann Murkowski (pronounced /mərˈkaʊski/; born May 22, 1957) is the senior U.S. Senator from the State of Alaska. Murkowski, a Republican, is the only woman ever elected to Congress from her state, in addition to being the first Senator born in Alaska.


Early life, family, and career

Murkowski was born in Ketchikan, Alaska to Nancy R. (née Gore) and the previous senior U.S. Senator from Alaska, Frank Murkowski. Her paternal grandfather was of Polish descent and her mother had Irish and French Canadian ancestry.[1] As a child, she and her family moved all over the state due to her father's job. Frank Murkowski worked in the banking industry until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980. Lisa earned a B.A. in economics from Georgetown University in 1980, and a Juris Doctor from Willamette University College of Law in 1985. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.[2]

She became a member of the Alaska Bar Association in 1987. She was an attorney in Anchorage, Alaska from 1985 to 1998. She also served, from 1990 to 1991, on the mayor's task force on the homeless.

In 1998, she was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives and named as House Majority Leader for the 2003–2004 session. She never served as Majority Leader, due to her appointment to the Senate. Murkowski sat on the Alaska Commission on Post Secondary Education and chaired both the Labor and Commerce and the Military and Veterans Affairs Committees. In 1999 she introduced legislation establishing a Joint Armed Services Committee.

Murkowski is married to Verne Martell. She has two children, Nic and Matt. Her father, Frank Murkowski, was Governor of Alaska from 2002 to 2006 in addition to being her immediate predecessor in the Senate.

U.S. Senate

Murkowski, while a member of the state House, was appointed by her father, Governor Frank Murkowski, to his own unexpired Senate seat in December 2002, which he had vacated after being elected governor. The appointment caused a furor in the state, and eventually resulted in a referendum which stripped the governor of his power to directly appoint replacement Senators.

She was subsequently elected to a full six-year term against former Governor Tony Knowles in the 2004 election, after winning a primary challenge by a large margin. Near the end of the general campaign, senior senator Ted Stevens shot campaign ads for Murkowski and warned the public that if a Democrat replaced Murkowski they were likely to receive fewer federal dollars. She may have also been helped by George W. Bush carrying the state in a landslide over John Kerry.

Murkowski is a moderate Republican. She is generally pro-choice on abortion and supports stem cell research. She is also a member of the Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans For Choice, and The Wish List (Women in the Senate and House), a group of pro-choice women Republicans.

In July 2007, Murkowski stated 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.[3] The Anchorage Daily News noted, "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."[3] According to the Associated Press, Murkowski bought the land from two developers tied to the Ted Stevens probe.[4]

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.[5]


Committee assignments

Source: 2009 Congressional Record, Vol. 155, Page S730

Policy and issues

Murkowski is considered a moderate Republican. She is one of ten Republican Senators who refused to commit to Bill Frist's "nuclear option" to end judicial filibusters, and she supported H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would have permitted the Secretary of Health and Human Services to support taxpayer-funded research on stem cells. Congress passed the bill, but President George W. Bush vetoed it.

Murkowski voted with Democrats and moderate Republicans on H.R. 976, which called for the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide coverage for additional uninsured children.[6] That bill passed both the House and the Senate, but was vetoed by President Bush. She supports health care reforms in her native state as well, largely because health care costs for Alaskans are up to 70% higher than costs in the continental United States.

On abortion, Murkowski has a "mixed record" rating (50%) from the National Right to Life Committee, and a pro-life rating (14%) from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).[7]

On voting rights, Murkowski opposes bringing the DC Voting Rights Act to the floor.

On environmental issues, for 2003, the liberal watchdog group League of Conservation Voters rated Murkowski at 11% on environmental issues: "During her short time in the Senate," Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power, "has thrown her support behind efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)."[8] For the 109th Congress, Republicans for Environmental Protection, a group dedicated to environmental causes, issued Murkowski a rating of 2%, noting that in 2006 she voted:[9]

  • against S.C. Resolution 83, intended to bolster energy security and lower energy-related environmental impacts
  • against an amendment to S. 728 which would make the Army Corps of Engineers more accountable for the environmental and economic impacts of their projects
  • for oil drilling in ANWR
  • for offshore oil and gas drilling.

Most Democrats and some moderate Republicans oppose Arctic oil drilling because of concerns about environmental damage. Murkowski believes that recent technological developments make it possible to drill without incurring such damage.[10]

On December 14, 2007, the Senate passed an energy bill that, among other things, encourages the use of renewable fuels. The legislation, which Murkowski supported, raises the renewable fuels standard to require the production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022, compared to the current production of about 7 billion gallons a year.[11]

Electoral history

United States Senate election in Alaska, 2004[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Lisa Murkowski (Incumbent) 149,446 48.62
Democratic Tony Knowles 139,878 45.51
Independent Marc J. Millican 8,857 2.88
Alaskan Independence Jerry Sanders 3,765 1.22
Green Jim Sykes 3,039 0.99
Libertarian Scott A. Kohlhaas 1,237 0.40
Independent Ted Gianoutsos 726 0.24

See also


External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Frank Murkowski
United States Senator (Class 3) from Alaska
December 20, 2002 – present
Served alongside: Ted Stevens, Mark Begich
Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank Murkowski
Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from Alaska
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
To be determined
Preceded by
John Thune
Vice-Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
2009 – present
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Ben Nelson
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Frank Lautenberg
D-New Jersey


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