Palin captures governor's race

Republican candidate defeats two-term Gov. Tony Knowles

Posted: Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Republican Sarah Palin fought her way to the governor's office by beating two of the state's most successful elected leaders.

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With 66 percent of precincts reporting late Tuesday, Palin had a 50 percent to 39 percent lead over Democrat Tony Knowles. Independent Andrew Halcro won nearly 10 percent of the votes.

Knowles served two terms as Alaska's governor and two terms as mayor of Anchorage, the state's largest city.

In the primary, Palin defeated incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski, who served one term as governor after being elected to the U.S Senate three times.

Palin promised a new attitude at the Capitol, promising trust, transparency and accountability to voters.

"I want them to hold me accountable," she said.

Knowles arrived at election headquarters in Anchorage and told supporters the ideas of the campaign - a natural gas pipeline, improved education and better health care - would not end Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

He declined to make an early concession despite his deficit.

"Frankly, looking at the numbers, I wish we were in a whole lot better shape than we are now," Knowles told cheering supporters. "It's too early to come to the conclusion. We're going to wait until the votes are counted because every vote counts, right?"

Palin emphasized ethics during her campaign, appealing to voters fed up with an FBI corruption investigation into ties between legislators and the oil industry, and problems with upkeep of the Alaska oil pipeline.

Knowles took the offensive against Palin's lack of statewide political experience, claiming it would hamper her in closing a deal for a North Slope natural gas pipeline.

Palin tried to put a positive spin on her lack of ties to the state power structure. "New energy for Alaska" was her campaign slogan.

Knowles has long been an outspoken advocate of keeping the capital in Juneau. Earlier in her career Palin had supported moving the capital closer to state's population center of Anchorage.

More recently she came out in favor of keeping the capital in Juneau. Controversy ensued, however, when she said she was open to allowing the Legislature to move its deliberations to Anchorage.

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