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Frank Murkowski
Frank murkowski 105th congress photo full.PNG
Murkowski in 1997
8th Governor of Alaska
In office
December 2, 2002 – December 4, 2006
Lieutenant Loren 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
December 5, 1966 – December 7, 1970
Governor Wally Hickel
Keith Miller
Preceded by William Dickson
Succeeded by Everett Buness
Personal details
Frank Hughes Murkowski

(1933-03-28) March 28, 1933 (age 90)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political party Republican
Nancy Gore
(m. 1954)
Children 6, including Lisa
Education Seattle University (BS)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Coast Guard
Years of service 1955–1957

Frank Hughes Murkowski (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. In his 2006 re-election bid, he finished in third place in the Republican primary behind Sarah Palin and John Binkley. Murkowski is notable for having appointed his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, to replace him in the U.S. Senate after he resigned his Senate seat to become governor of Alaska.

Early life and education

Murkowski was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of Helen (née Hughes) and Frank M. Murkowski. His paternal grandfather was of Polish descent. Murkowski attended Ketchikan High School in Alaska, graduating in 1951. He studied at Santa Clara University from 1951 to 1953, and earned a BS in economics from Seattle University in 1955. He joined the United States Coast Guard in the summer of 1955 and served until 1957 – the year his daughter Lisa was born. He was stationed in Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska, and aboard the cutters Sorrel and Thistle.


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 - the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce.

He ran for Alaska's sole U.S. House seat in 1970, but was defeated by Democratic state Senator Nick Begich.

U.S. Senate

President Ronald Reagan, in the Oval Office, shaking hands with Republican senator Frank Murkowski of Alaska (cropped)
Murkowski with President Ronald Reagan in 1986
Vice President J. Danforth Quayle and Marilyn Quayle wave to the crowd upon their arrival on base
Murkowski and his wife stand behind Vice President Dan Quayle and Marilyn Quayle as they express their appreciation to airmen who served in the Persian Gulf area during Operation Desert Storm on May 18, 1991
Republican Senators urge Tom Daschle to set a date for debate to establish a comprehensive energy plan for American families
Murkowski with Rick Santorum. Larry Craig, and Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2001

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. 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.

..... He also opposed gun control and affirmative action.

In a floor statement in the Senate, regarding the ban of homosexuals serving in the military, 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. 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.

Governor photo essay 060827-F-0193C-031
Murkowski, Senator Ted Stevens, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, State Senator Gary Wilken, and former State Senator John Binkley cut the ribbon dedicating a memorial to the Alaska-Siberia Lend Lease program in Fairbanks, Alaska on August 26, 2006
Secretary Ken Salazar with former Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski, at Interior headquarters, Washington, D.C
Murkowski with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2011

Murkowski was elected governor on November 5, 2002, receiving nearly 56% of the vote, the highest percentage for any Republican gubernatorial nominee in Alaska history up until that point. 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. The appointment was widely criticized 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 Alaska 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%). Murkowski's margin of defeat was the largest in any Republican primary by an incumbent governor in United States history. Murkowski left office with one of the nation's worst approval ratings of 19%.

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.

Murkowski considered attempting a return to his old job in the 2018 election, but ultimately decided against it.

Electoral history

  • United States House of Representatives election in Alaska, 1970
  • United States Senate election in Alaska, 1980
    • Frank Murkowski (R), 54%
    • Clark Gruening (D), 46%
  • United States Senate election in Alaska, 1986
    • Frank Murkowski (R) (inc.), 54%
    • Glenn Olds (D), 44%
  • United States Senate election in Alaska, 1992
    • Frank Murkowski (R) (inc.), 53%
    • Tony Smith (D), 38%
    • Mary Jordan (Grn.), 8%
  • United States Senate election in Alaska, 1998
    • Frank Murkowski (R) (inc.), 75%
    • Joe Sonneman (D), 20%
  • 2002 Alaska gubernatorial election
    • Frank Murkowski (R), 56%
    • Fran Ulmer (D), 41%
  • 2006 Alaska gubernatorial election (Republican primary)
    • Sarah Palin (R), 51%
    • John Binkley (R), 30%
    • Frank Murkowski (R) (incumbent), 19%

See also

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