Governor winnows list of choices to replace him in the U.S. Senate

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Gov. Frank Murkowski has told several Republicans they are no longer in the running to fill out his vacant U.S. Senate seat, sources told The Associated Press.

Murkowski's daughter, state Rep. Lisa Murkowski, is increasingly being mentioned by Republicans as a top choice.

Murkowski is expected to announce his successor on Friday after he returns from a trip to Washington, D.C., according Murkowski spokesman John Manly.

Several people interviewed for the appointment said Murkowski has informed them that he has made his decision, and they are not it.

"I don't know if I would characterize it as disappointment, or relief or a combination of both," said Jerry Hood, who was among nine people interviewed for the job during meetings in Anchorage in November.

Hood is secretary-treasurer for the Teamsters Local 959 who became a Republican and campaigned for Murkowski. He was informed last week that he would not be picked.

Lobbyist and former state Sen. Jerry Mackie was told on Wednesday. Mackie would not elaborate on what the governor said.

"We had a very personal conversation and I don't feel it would be appropriate for me to talk about the details of that conversation," Mackie said.

Murkowski also contacted Drue Pearce, a former state senator now serving as special assistant to Interior Secretary Gale Norton; former Key Bank president Mike Burns; former state Sen. Sean Parnell; and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. executive Mark Hanley.

Johne Binkley, Alaska Railroad board chairman and former state legislator from Fairbanks, was notified Monday.

Binkley told The Associated Press, "He's made his decision and I wasn't the one."

Binkley was seen by many in the GOP as a leading contender for the position. Also ranked highly among Republicans in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough was former Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin, who narrowly lost the GOP bid for lieutenant governor.

"From those who were interviewed to where we are today, I don't think anyone is left," Palin said Tuesday. "I think he's down to Lisa."

Palin said Murkowski told her that he would make the appointment at the end of the week and she would not be selected.

Mead Treadwell, managing director of the Institute of the North at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, also confirmed he was not chosen.

"He didn't get into the other candidates," Treadwell said.

Murkowski resigned the Senate seat he held for 22 years when he was sworn in as governor on Dec. 2. He has a month from that day to appoint a new senator.

Murkowski had said he would select a candidate who is young enough to accrue seniority in the post and bankable enough to win an expected tough election in 2004.

No Democrat has announced plans to seek the office, but former Gov. Tony Knowles is mentioned by many in the party as a possible candidate.

Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Anchorage, could not be reached for comment.

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