Palin names Schmidt as succession choice

Posted: Monday, March 02, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's Corrections Commissioner is second in line to head state government behind Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell under a revised succession plan announced by Gov. Sarah Palin.

Palin recently appointed Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt to succeed Parnell if the office of lieutenant governor becomes vacant.

Under state law, Palin must designate someone from her cabinet to succeed Parnell if a vacancy occurs.

Talis Colberg held that position when he was attorney general. He resigned earlier this month.

If both Palin and Parnell left office early, Schmidt would become governor.

Schmidt and Palin have ties that precede their state service. They went to high school together in Wasilla.

Schmidt was hired in the prison system in 1988 as an officer at Spring Creek Correctional Center. Immediately before he was named commissioner, he was superintendent of the Point MacKenzie Correctional Farm.

The Alaska Correctional Officers Association last year voted against him in a "no confidence" measure. Palin stood behind Schmidt and called him a reformer.

The Legislature must confirm Schmidt's new designation.

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