Lisa Ann Murkowski (//; born May 22, 1957) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Alaska, having held that seat since 2002. She is a member of the Republican Party, and is the second most senior Republican woman in the Senate. Along with Susan Collins from Maine, she is frequently described as one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate and is a crucial swing voter.
|United States Senator|
|Assumed office |
December 20, 2002
Serving with Dan Sullivan
|Appointed by||Frank Murkowski|
|Preceded by||Frank Murkowski|
|Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Mary Landrieu|
|Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference|
June 17, 2009 – September 17, 2010
|Preceded by||John Thune|
|Succeeded by||John Barrasso|
|Member of the Alaska House of Representatives|
from the 14th district
January 19, 1999 – December 20, 2002
|Preceded by||Terry Martin|
|Succeeded by||Vic Kohring|
Lisa Ann Murkowski
May 22, 1957
Ketchikan, Territory of Alaska, U.S.
Verne Martel (m. 1987)
|Education||Georgetown University (BA)|
Willamette University (JD)
Murkowski is the daughter of former U.S. Senator and Governor of Alaska, Frank Murkowski. Before her appointment to the Senate, she served in the Alaska House of Representatives and was eventually elected Majority Leader. She was appointed to the U.S. Senate by her father, who resigned his seat in December 2002 to become the Governor of Alaska. She completed her father's unexpired term, which ended in January 2005.
Murkowski ran for and won a full term in 2004. She ran for a second term in 2010. After losing the Republican Party primary to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller, Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate and defeated both Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams in the general election; this made her the second U.S. Senator (and the first since Strom Thurmond in 1954) to be elected by write-in vote. Although Murkowski has won three full terms to the Senate, she has never won a majority of the vote; she won pluralities in each of her three races, with 48.6% of the vote in 2004, 39.5% in 2010, and 44.4% in 2016.
Early life, education, and early careerEdit
Murkowski was born in Ketchikan, Alaska, the daughter of Nancy Rena (née Gore) and Frank Murkowski. Her paternal great-grandfather was of Polish descent, and her mother's ancestry is Irish and French Canadian. As a child, she and her family moved around the state with her father's job as a banker.
She earned a B.A. degree in Economics from Georgetown University in 1980, the same year her father was elected to the U.S. Senate. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and represented the state of Alaska as the 1980 Cherry Blossom Princess. She received her J.D. degree in 1985 from Willamette University College of Law.
She was employed as an attorney in the Anchorage District Court Clerk's office (1987–89). From 1989 to 1998, she was an attorney in private practice in Anchorage, Alaska. She also served, from 1990 to 1991, on the Mayor's Task Force for the Homeless.
Alaska House of RepresentativesEdit
In 1998, Murkowski was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives. Her District 18 included northeast Anchorage, Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force Base (now Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or JBER), and suburban parts of Eagle River-Chugiak. In 1999, she introduced legislation establishing a Joint Armed Services Committee. She was reelected in 2000 and, after her district boundaries changed, in 2002. That latter year she had a conservative primary opponent, Nancy Dahlstrom, who had challenged her because Lisa had supported abortion rights and rejected conservative economics. Lisa prevailed by only 56 votes. She was named as House Majority Leader for the 2003–2004 legislative session. She resigned her House seat before taking office, due to her appointment by her father to the seat he had vacated in the U.S. Senate, upon his stepping down to assume the Alaska governorship. Murkowski sat on the Alaska Commission on Post Secondary Education and chaired both the Labor and Commerce, and the Military and Veterans Affairs Committees. Upon her resigning and taking her Senate seat, her father appointed Dahlstrom, the choice of the District Republican committee, as her replacement.
In December 2002, Murkowski—while a member of the state House—was appointed by her father, Governor Frank Murkowski, to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy. The vacancy was created when Frank Murkowski resigned from the Senate after being elected Governor.
The appointment caused controversy in the state. Many voters disapproved of apparent nepotism in the appointment of Murkowski to the Senate. Her appointment eventually resulted in a referendum that stripped the governor of his power to directly appoint replacement Senators. Sarah Palin was particularly upset, because she had interviewed for the seat for herself, but had been rejected.
Murkowski was elected to a full six-year term against former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles in the 2004 election after winning a primary challenge by a large margin. The two were in a dead heat in polls. The centrist Republican Main Street Partnership, which wanted to run TV ads for Murkowski, was told no air time was left to buy. Near the end of the general campaign, senior U.S. Senator Ted Stevens shot campaign ads for Murkowski and claimed that if a Democrat replaced Murkowski, the State of Alaska would likely receive fewer federal dollars.
Murkowski faced the most difficult election of her career in the August 24, 2010, Republican Party primary election against Joe Miller, a former U.S. magistrate judge supported by former Governor Sarah Palin. The initial ballot count for the primary showed her trailing Miller by a margin of 51–49%, with absentee ballots yet to be tallied. After the first round of absentee ballots were counted on August 31, Murkowski conceded the race, stating that she did not believe that Miller's lead would be overcome in the next round of absentee vote count.
Following the outcome of the primary election, the Murkowski campaign floated the idea of her running as a Libertarian in the general election. But on August 29, 2010, the executive board of the state Libertarian Party voted not to consider allowing Murkowski on its ticket for the U.S. Senate race.
On September 17, 2010, Murkowski said that she would mount a write-in campaign for the Senate seat. Her write-in campaign was aided in large part with substantial monetary aid and assistance from the Native corporations and PACs, as well as support from state teachers' and firefighters' unions.
On November 17, 2010, the Associated Press reported that Murkowski had become only the second Senate candidate (after Strom Thurmond in 1954) to win a write-in campaign, thereby retaining her seat. Murkowski emerged victorious after a two-week count of write-in ballots showed she had overtaken Miller. Miller did not concede defeat. U.S. Federal District Judge Ralph Beistline granted an injunction to stop the certification of the election due to "serious" legal issues and irregularities raised by Miller as to the hand count of absentee ballots. On December 10, 2010, an Alaskan judge dismissed Miller's case, clearing the way for Murkowski's win; however, Miller appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, and the results were not certified. On December 13, Miller appealed the Alaska Superior Court decision of the prior week to the Alaska Supreme Court. Miller's appeal was rejected by the state Supreme Court on December 22, 2010. On December 28, 2010, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline dismissed Miller's lawsuit. Murkowski was certified as the winner on December 30 by Gov. Sean Parnell.
After securing the Republican Party nomination by a wide margin, Murkowski was again reelected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Joe Miller, this time running as the Libertarian Party nominee, was again the runner-up in the general election.
The election was unusual in featuring a Libertarian Party nominee who endorsed Donald Trump running against a Republican incumbent who did not. The Libertarian vice-presidential nominee Bill Weld endorsed Murkowski, citing Miller's support for Trump and "devoted social conservative" views as incompatible with libertarianism.
- Committee on Appropriations
- Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (Chairman)
- As Chairman of the full committee, Murkowski may serve as an ex officio member of all subcommittees.
- Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
- Committee on Indian Affairs
Senator Lisa Murkowski is a moderate Republican. Since winning re-election in 2010, her voting record has been deemed by some as "more moderate" when compared to her previous years in the Senate. The National Journal, in 2013, gave Murkowski a composite score of 56% conservative and 45% liberal. The National Journal ranked her as the 56th most liberal and 44th most conservative member of the Senate. CrowdPac, which rates politicians based on donations they receive and give, has given Murkowski a score of 2.7C with 10C being the most conservative and 10L being the most liberal. According to GovTrack, Murkowski is the second most moderate Republican Senator and as of 2017 is placed by GovTrack's analysis to the left of all Republicans, except Susan Collins, and to the left of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. The New York Times arranged Republican senators by ideology and also ranked Murkowski as the second most liberal Republican. The American Conservative Union (ACU) has given her a lifetime rating of 59.79% conservative. In 2018, the fiscally conservative PAC Americans for Prosperity gave her a lifetime rating of 75% conservative and the ACU gave her a 52% conservative score in 2017. Americans for Democratic Action gave her a 2012 rating of 35% liberal. According to FiveThirtyEight, which tracks Congressional votes, Murkowski voted with President Trump's position 80% of the time as of February, 2019. According to CQ Roll Call, Murkowski voted with President Obama's position on votes 72.3% of the time, one of only two Republicans voting for his positions over 70% of the time.
Abortion, reproductive issues, and women's rightsEdit
Murkowski is generally pro-choice on abortion and supports non-federally funded embryonic stem cell research, although she has cast significant pro-life votes, including ones to ban late-term abortions. She does not want to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. She is a member of the Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans For Choice, and The Wish List (Women in the Senate and House), a group of pro-choice women Republicans. On March 30, 2017, Murkowski joined Susan Collins to break party lines voting with Democrats against a bill allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood. Also in 2017, Murkowski was one of three Republicans, with Capito and Collins, who opposed a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that included a provision to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2018, Murkowski again joined Collins, voting with a majority of Democrats, against a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Planned Parenthood voted to recognize Murkowski for her vote. She opposes defunding Planned Parenthood. Murkowski was one of two Republicans who voted against an amendment to prohibit federal funding from being given to facilities that promote abortion services or family planning. By July 2018, Murkowski was one of three Republican senators, along with Shelley Capito and Susan Collins, who publicly supported keeping the Roe v. Wade decision.
In 2019, Senator Murkowski announced support for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. She has introduced legislation in Congress to remove the previous deadline for the ERA's ratification in order to allow it to continue to receive support from the necessary number of states. The ERA has been opposed by conservative groups, including major pro-life organizations, due to concerns that the ERA would provide additional protections for abortion rights.
Planned Parenthood, which rates politicians' support for pro-choice issues, has given Murkowski a life-time score of 58%. NARAL Pro-Choice America, which also provides ratings, gave her a score of 50% in 2015. In 2014, her score from NARAL was 80%. In 2017, Planned Parenthood gave Murkowski a score of 41%. Population Connection, which supports voluntary family planning, determined that Murkowski voted with their positions 43% of the time in 2017, 33% in 2016, and 100% in 2014. Conversely, National Right to Life, which opposes abortion and rates support for anti-abortion issues, gave Murkowski a score of 66% during the 114th Congress and a 40% in 2018.
In January 2019, Senator Murkowski supported both Republican and Democratic bills to end a government shutdown. She was one of six Republicans who broke with their party to vote in favor of the Democratic proposal.
The National Federation of Independent Business named Murkowski a Guardian of Small Business for her "outstanding" voting record on behalf of small business owners.
Alaska Native issuesEdit
Murkowski is an active member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and served as Vice Chairman of the Committee during the 110th Congress. She is the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a member of the Committee on Appropriations, and has a continuing role on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. In 2009, she was honored with a Congressional Leadership Award by the National Congress of American Indians. She is the first Alaskan to receive the award.
Murkowski opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; she voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and she voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Murkowski has stated numerous times that she would like to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Murkowski voted for H.R. 976, which called for the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide coverage for additional uninsured children. That bill passed both the House and the Senate, but was vetoed by President George W. Bush. She supports health care reforms in her native state, as well, largely because health care costs for Alaskans are up to 70% higher than costs in the contiguous United States.
In 2017, Lisa Murkowski announced that she was opposed to repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan. She voted against starting debates in the Senate. She also was one of seven Republicans who voted against repealing the ACA without a replacement. On July 27, 2017, Murkowski voted 'No' on the Health Care Freedom Act commonly referred to as the 'Skinny' repeal of the ACA. She said the defeated bill did not adequately replace the ACA, and that her constituents had expressed concerns about its impact on their health coverage. Murkowski called for "a more open process" in writing a replacement bill. Her vote was criticized by some Alaska Republicans, while 200 people rallied in Anchorage and marched to Murkowski's office to thank her for her role in protecting the ACA. In 2018, Murkowski voted with all other Republicans, except Susan Collins, against a resolution to repeal the "short-term health insurance plans" allowed by the Trump administration.
Same-sex marriage and LGBT issuesEdit
In 2004, Murkowski voted in favor of a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage to be between one man and one woman. She said that would also support an Alaska state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman and that each state should have the right to establish its definition of marriage. Murkowski voted for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2006. According to her spokesman, she wanted to protect the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman that Alaskans added to their state constitution in 1998.
Murkowski was one of five Republican senators who voted with Democrats for the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Murkowski supported the repeal of don't ask, don't tell after consideration of the Department of Defense report. "Our military leaders have made a compelling case that they can successfully implement a repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'," she said. "It is infinitely preferable for Congress to repeal the law, and allow the service chiefs to develop and execute a new policy, than to invite a court-ordered reversal of the law with no allowance for a military-directed implementation. I've heard from Alaskans across the state who believe it's time to end this discriminatory policy, and I agree with them." On December 18, 2010, Murkowski was one of eight Senate Republicans to vote in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, and one of only four who had voted for cloture.
On March 27, 2013, Murkowski had said that her opinion on same-sex marriage was "evolving". She said she noticed that the country's views on marriage were changing, noting conversations with her children and their friends as an example. She said the country had more important issues to focus on than same-sex marriage.
On June 19, 2013, Murkowski announced her support of same-sex marriage, citing the encouragement of family values and Alaskans' favor of limiting government's power. She became the third sitting Republican United States Senator to do so after Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois. In 2015, she was one of 11 Senate Republicans who voted to give social security benefits to same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriage was not yet recognized. The Human Rights Campaign, in its Congressional Scorecard rating support for LGBT issues during the 114th Congress, gave Murkowski a score of 69%. During the 113th Congress, she received an 88% score.
In February 2017, Murkowski and Senator Susan Collins were the only two Republicans who voted in the Senate against Donald Trump's selection for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. This caused a 50-50 tie broken by Senate president Mike Pence to successfully confirm DeVos' appointment. A day earlier, Collins and Murkowski both voted for DeVos within the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, passing DeVos' nomination by a vote of 12-11 to allow the Senate to vote on DeVos.
In September 2016, Murkowski was one of thirty-four senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry advocating for the United States using "all available tools to dissuade Russia from continuing its airstrikes in Syria that are clearly not in our interest" and that there should be clear enforcement by the US of the airstrikes violating "a legally binding Security Council Resolution".
In 2007, Lisa Murkowski voted against the McCain-Kennedy proposal to offer amnesty to undocumented immigrants. Later, Murkowski was one of two Republicans who voted for the DREAM Act in 2010. She was also one of fourteen Republicans in 2013 who voted for a comprehensive immigration bill that offered a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In 2018, Murkowski voted in favor of the McCain/Coons comprehensive immigration bill which did not include funding for a border wall as well as in favor of the bill proposed by Collins to grant a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers and to include $25 billion for border security; she voted against the Republican bill, backed by President Trump, which would have reduced and restricted legal immigration. After Trump announced a 'zero-tolerance' migration policy that separates children from parents Lisa Murkowski opposed the Trump administration's actions and called the policy "cruel, tragic".
Murkowski became one of only three Republicans to vote with the Democrats in favor of repealing rule changes enacted by the Republican-controlled FCC. The measure was meant to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules.
Energy and environmentEdit
For the 109th Congress, Republicans for Environmental Protection, a group dedicated to environmental causes, gave Murkowski a rating of 2%, noting that in 2006, she voted against S.C. Resolution 83, intended to bolster energy security and lower energy-related environmental impacts, against an amendment to S. 728 that would make the Army Corps of Engineers more accountable for the environmental and economic impacts of their projects, for oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, for offshore oil and gas drilling. Murkowski is currently the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She has given her support to efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
Murkowski believes that recent technological developments have made drilling safer and more economical.
Murkowski introduced a bill that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting the amount of greenhouse gases that major industries can produce. In a statement, Murkowski said, "We cannot turn a blind eye to the EPA's efforts to impose back-door climate regulations with no input from Congress."
In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill (BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico), Murkowski opposed a bill that would have raised the liability cap for oil spills from $75 million to $10 billion. She said that such a large cap would jeopardize various businesses, and that exposing companies to greater risk would make it impossible for smaller companies to compete. Murkowski has received over $50,000 from BP.
A major supporter of fossil fuels, Murkowski joined most of her Republican colleagues in repealing the Stream Protection Rule, a regulation which prevented coal companies from dumping coal in waterways.
In July 2015, after an amendment authored by Bernie Sanders to an energy reform bill was rejected by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski dismissed the amendment as unnecessary due to the resolution approved by the committee earlier in the congressional session along with work done on the same bill: "I think everything that we have done along the way is designed to move us towards that cleaner, more efficient, more responsible, greater focus on our environment, while at the same time ensuring a level of affordability and access to all Americans."
Murkowski has an A rating from the National Rifle Association for her support of gun rights. The organization endorsed her for her re-election bid for the Senate in 2016, which stated that she had a "proven record" of voting in favor of gun rights. Murkowski supports the right to bear arms, and was one of 46 senators to vote against expanding background checks to all gun show and internet sales in April 2013. She has voted in favor of concealed carry reciprocity law enabling Americans to carry their concealed gun in any state. She also voted against a partial ban of select firearms.
Despite voting against marijuana legalization, Murkowski has called upon the federal government to review federal policy that forbids marijuana users, including those in legal states, from owning firearms.
Murkowski has cosponsored the bipartisan STATES Act proposed in the 115th U.S. Congress by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner that would exempt individuals or corporations in compliance with state cannabis laws from federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act.
In October 2017, Murkowski and Democrat Elizabeth Warren wrote a letter to President Trump applauding his "stated commitment to addressing opioid addiction" and concurring with his position that the opioid crisis deserved an increase in federal spending. Warren and Murkowski expressed that they were "extremely concerned" that Trump had "yet to take the necessary steps to declare a national emergency on opioids, nor "made any proposals to significantly increase funding to combat the epidemic". The senators wrote that they hoped that Trump would pursue actions supporting his "verbal commitment to fighting the 'serious problem' of opioid addiction with action."
In January 2018, Murkowski, Claire McCaskill, and Dan Sullivan wrote a letter to acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration Robert Patterson calling on the DEA to issue a new regulation that would authorize certain health-care providers to obtain special registration letting them use telemedicine to prescribe medication for individuals with an opioid addiction.
In May 2018, Murkowski and Democrats Ed Markey and Maggie Hassan introduced legislation requiring federal agencies to form ways of measuring the effectiveness of efforts to address the opioid epidemic over the period of the next 180 days with the intent of "significantly reversing" misuse of opioids and opioid-related deaths within five years.
Supreme Court nominationsEdit
Murkowski has taken different positions on the so-called "nuclear option", under which the majority party can approve a nominee to the Supreme Court by a simple majority instead of allowing for the Senate's tradition of filibusters. She has said she opposes use of this option, arguing that "it will further inflame partisan passions", and prefers a more bipartisan process. However, in April 2017 the Republican leadership of the Senate used the nuclear option to win approval of Neil Gorsuch to the Court, and Murkowski voted for it.
Because of her pro-choice position, she is often considered a possible "no" vote on appointments to the Supreme Court. In 2017 she voted to confirm the appointment of conservative Neil Gorsuch to the Court. On September 28, 2018, she sided with Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and stated she will not vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh unless the FBI conducts an investigation of sexual assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and others. On October 5 she was the only Republican who voted against the cloture motion to end debate and advance Kavanaugh's confirmation to a vote; the cloture motion passed 51-49. She was the only Republican who voted against Kavanaugh's confirmation, but she requested to be recorded as 'present' in a process known as a "pair between senators" as a favor to Senator Steve Daines from Montana so that he could attend his daughter's wedding. Since Daines was voting 'yes' and Murkowski voted 'no,' the process allows them to cancel each other's votes. The Alaska Republican Party opposed her decision while the regional Planned Parenthood thanked her for opposing Kavanaugh.
|Republican||Lisa Murkowski (incumbent)||368||100|
|Republican||Lisa Murkowski (incumbent)||3,828||96.4|
|Republican||Nancy A. Dahlstrom||429||46.9|
|Republican||Lisa Murkowski (incumbent)||45,710||58.1|
|Republican||Lisa Murkowski (incumbent)||149,446||48.62|
|Independent||Marc J. Millican||8,857||2.88|
|Alaskan Independence||Jerry Sanders||3,765||1.22|
|Libertarian||Scott A. Kohlhaas||1,237||0.40|
|Republican||Lisa Murkowski (incumbent)||53,872||49.09|
|Write-in||Lisa Murkowski (incumbent)||101,091||39.49|
|Write-in||Other write-in votes||1,143||0.44|
|Invalid or blank votes||2,784||1.08|
|Republican||Lisa Murkowski (incumbent)||138,149||44.36|
|Independent||Breck A. Carter||2,609||0.84|
|Invalid or blank votes||5,363||1.69|
Property sale controversyEdit
In July 2007, Murkowski stated she would sell back land she bought from Anchorage businessman Bob Penney, a day after a Washington watchdog group filed a Senate ethics complaint against her, alleging that Penney sold the property well below market value. The Anchorage Daily News noted, "The transaction amounted to an illegal gift worth between $70,000 and $170,000, depending on how the property was valued, according to the complaint by the National Legal and Policy Center." According to the Associated Press, Murkowski bought the land from two developers tied to the Ted Stevens probe.
In 2008, Murkowski amended her Senate financial disclosures for 2004 through 2006, adding income of $60,000 per year from the sale of a property in 2003, and more than $40,000 a year from the sale of her "Alaska Pasta Company" in 2005.
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Murkowski faces tough odds with her write-in candidacy. She has lost support from members within the Republican establishment, who are backing the Republican nominee, Joe Miller.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lisa Murkowski.|
- Senator Lisa Murkowski official U.S. Senate site
- Lisa Murkowski for Senate
- Lisa Murkowski at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Lisa Murkowski at 100 Years of Alaska's Legislature