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FAIRBANKS- U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski formally announced Wednesday that she is seeking re-election this year.
The Republican made the announcement during a luncheon in Fairbanks, noting that the national economic downturn is being felt in Alaska. The state's February unemployment rate hit its highest for that month in 18 years, hovering around 8.5 percent.
"We can turn our economy around, but to do so we need access to our abundant natural resources," she said in a statement. "That means maximizing our oil and gas production, developing a gas pipeline project to supply Alaskans and the Outside with affordable energy, finding ways to harness our boundless supply of hydro, geothermal, ocean and wind energy and protecting our timber and fishing industries."
Murkowski's re-election bid was expected as she has been raising cash. According to the latest campaign finance reports, she had $1.7 million on hand.
Murkowski, 52, was born in Ketchikan and grew up in Wrangell, Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage. She was elected to the state Legislature in 1998.
Her father, former Sen. Frank Murkowski, appointed her to his Senate seat when he was elected governor in 2002. She won her first election two years later.
Former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' election loss to Democrat Mark Begich in 2008 has left Murkowski as the state's senior senator. She is the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The only candidate to have filed with the state Division of Elections for the Senate race is Frank Vondersaar, a Democrat from Homer.