List of Governors of Alaska

Last updated on 18 May 2017

The Governor of Alaska is the chief executive of the State of Alaska. The governor is the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces (including the Alaska National Guard and Alaska State Defense Force), The governor is also the head of the executive branch of Alaska's state government and has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Alaska Legislature,[2] to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of impeachment.[3]

Eleven people have served as governor of the State of Alaska over 13 distinct terms, though Alaska had over 30 civilian and military governors during its long history as a United States territory. Only two governors, William Allen Egan and Bill Walker, were born in Alaska. Two people, Egan and Wally Hickel, have been elected to multiple non-consecutive terms as governor. Hickel is also noted for a rare third party win in American politics, having been elected to a term in 1990 representing the Alaskan Independence Party. The longest-serving governor of the state was Egan, who was elected three times and served nearly 12 years. The longest-serving territorial governor was Ernest Gruening, who served 13½ years.

The current governor is Bill Walker, who took office on December 1, 2014.

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Bill Walker.jpg

Governors before statehood

Alaska was purchased by the United States from the Russian Empire in 1867, with formal transfer occurring on October 18, 1867, which is now celebrated as Alaska Day.[4] Prior to then, it was known as Russian America or Russian Alaska, controlled by the governors and general managers of the Russian-American Company.

Commanders of the Department of Alaska

The vast region was initially designated the Department of Alaska, under the jurisdiction of the Department of War and administered by the U.S. Army officers until 1877, when the Army was withdrawn from Alaska. The Department of the Treasury then took control, with the Collector of Customs as the highest ranking federal official in the territory. In 1879, the U.S. Navy was given jurisdiction over the department.[5]

Some believe the first American administrator of Alaska was Polish immigrant Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski. However, the Anchorage Daily News was unable to find any conclusive information to support this claim.[6]

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Jefferson C. Davis.jpg
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George Keyports Brady.jpg
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Tidball BVT BG John C 1865.jpg
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Governors of the District of Alaska

On May 17, 1884, the Department of Alaska was redesignated the District of Alaska, an incorporated but unorganized territory with a civil government. The governor was appointed by the President of the United States.

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John Henry Kinkead.gif
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Alfred P. Swineford.jpg
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Lyman Enos Knapp.jpg
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Wilford B Hoggatt.jpg
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Portrait of Walter Eli Clark.jpg

Governors of the Territory of Alaska

The District of Alaska was organized into Alaska Territory on August 24, 1912. Governors continued to be appointed by the President of the United States. During World War II, parts of the Aleutian Islands were occupied by Imperial Japan from June 5, 1942, to June 28, 1943.

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Portrait of Walter Eli Clark.jpg
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George Alexander Parks.jpg
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Ernest Gruening (D-AK).jpg
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Governors of the State of Alaska

Alaska was admitted to the Union on January 3, 1959.

The state constitution provides for the election of a governor and lieutenant governor every four years on the same ticket, with their terms commencing on the first Monday in the December following the election.[13] Governors are allowed to succeed themselves once, having to wait four years after their second term in a row before being allowed to run again.[14] Should the office of governor become vacant, the lieutenant governor assumes the title of governor.[15] The original constitution of 1956 created the office of secretary of state, which was functionally identical to a lieutenant governor, and was renamed to "lieutenant governor" in 1970.[16]

There have been six governors from the Republican Party, four from the Democratic Party, one independent, and one, Wally Hickel, who was elected under the Alaskan Independence Party during his second period in office. Many Republicans were unhappy with the choice of Arliss Sturgulewski as their party's candidate for governor in the 1990 election, and Hickel was able to attract their votes. However, he never held the AIP's secessionist ideals, and switched back to the Republican Party eight months before his term ended.

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William A. Egan.jpg
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Bill Sheffield 1989.jpg
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Steve Cowper 1990.jpg
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Frank Murkowski, 105th Congress photo.jpg
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Sarah Palin Germany 3 Cropped Lightened.JPG
Former Governor of Alaska Sean Parnell.jpg
Former Governor of Alaska Sean Parnell.jpg
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Bill Walker.jpg

Other high offices held

Five of Alaska's governors have served other high offices, including one Cabinet member and one governor of another state. Three were members of the U.S. Congress, although only two represented Alaska.

Governor Other offices held Source
John Henry Kinkead Governor of Nevada [21]
James Sheakley Representative from Pennsylvania [22]
Ernest Gruening Senator from Alaska [23]
Wally Hickel Secretary of the Interior [24]
Tony Knowles Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska [25]
Frank Murkowski Senator from Alaska [26]

Living former U.S. governors of Alaska

As of January 2017 there are seven living former governors of Alaska, the oldest being Keith Harvey Miller (served 1969-1970, born 1925). The most recent death of a former governor was that of Mike Stepovich (served 1957-1958, born 1919) on February 14, 2014. The most recently serving governor to die was Wally Hickel (served 1966-1969 and 1990-1994, born 1919) on May 7, 2010.

Governor Years in office Date of birth (and age)
Keith Harvey Miller 1969–1970 (1925-03-01) March 1, 1925 (age 92)
Bill Sheffield 1982–1986 (1928-06-26) June 26, 1928 (age 89)
Steve Cowper 1986–1990 (1938-08-21) August 21, 1938 (age 78)
Tony Knowles 1994–2002 (1943-01-01) January 1, 1943 (age 74)
Frank Murkowski 2002–2006 (1933-03-28) March 28, 1933 (age 84)
Sarah Palin 2006–2009 (1964-02-11) February 11, 1964 (age 53)
Sean Parnell 2009–2014 (1962-11-19) November 19, 1962 (age 54)

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Forced to resign due to his involvement with the fraudulent Reynolds–Alaska Development Company.[7]
  2. ^ Resigned on request after it was discovered he was still a Canadian citizen.[9]
  3. ^ During most of World War II, Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., was the military commander of Alaska, and held much executive power over the territory.[10]
  4. ^ Resigned; was reportedly unhappy with the job, and did not expect to be reappointed.[11]
  5. ^ a b As secretary of Alaska, acted as governor for remainder of term.[12]
  6. ^ Resigned to run for United States Senate, losing that election.[12]
  7. ^ Each term for which a governor is elected is listed here; if multiple governors served in a single term, due to resignations, deaths, and the like, then that term will be shared among those governors. If a governor was elected multiple times, then there will be multiple terms listed for that governor.
  8. ^ The office of lieutenant governor was named secretary of state until 1970.[16]
  9. ^ Hickel resigned to become United States Secretary of the Interior. As secretary of state, Miller became governor.
  10. ^ Represented the Alaskan Independence Party.
  11. ^ Hickel was elected as a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, and switched to the Republican party in April 1994.[17]
  12. ^ Palin resigned, citing the costs of ethics investigations.[18] As lieutenant governor, Parnell became governor.
  13. ^ Campbell's position was termed "Temporary Substitute Lieutenant Governor[19] until he was confirmed by the Alaska Legislature on August 10, 2009.[20]
  14. ^ Governor Walker's first term expires December 3, 2018; he is not yet term limited.
  15. ^ Represented the Democratic Party.

References

General
Constitution
Specific
  1. ^ "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries". The Council of State Governments. June 25, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  2. ^ AK Const. art. II, § 15
  3. ^ AK Const. art. III
  4. ^ "State Symbols". Alaska Office of Economic Development. Retrieved August 26, 2008.
  5. ^ Gates p. 86
  6. ^ Ruskin, Liz (2002-12-20). "Barking up the wrong Pole: Hero wasn't governor". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved August 26, 2008.
  7. ^ Janson, Lone (1975). The Copper Spike. Alaska Northwest Publishing Co. p. 44. ISBN 0-88240-045-2.
  8. ^ "New Governor of Alaska". New York Times. March 11, 1906. p. 5.
  9. ^ Gruening, Ernest (1973). Many Battles: The Autobiography of Ernest Gruening. Liveright. p. 216. ISBN 0-87140-565-2.
  10. ^ Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. University of Washington Press. 1997. p. 319. ISBN 0-295-97558-X.
  11. ^ Naske, Claus-M. (1985). A History of Alaska Statehood. University Press of America. p. 244. ISBN 0-8191-4556-4.
  12. ^ a b Naske, Claus-M.; Herman E. Slotnick (1979). Alaska: A History of the 49th State. Eerdmans. p. 309. ISBN 0-8028-7041-4.
  13. ^ AK Const. art. III, § 4
  14. ^ AK Const. art. III, § 5
  15. ^ AK Const. art. III, § 11
  16. ^ a b "Article 3 – The Executive". The Alaska Constitution. Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  17. ^ "Alaska's Gov. Hickel Rejoins Gop Amid Speculation Over Another Term". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. April 15, 1994. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  18. ^ Cockerham, Sean (July 7, 2009). "Palin says ethics investigations were paralyzing". Anchorage Daily News. Archived from the original on October 4, 2009.
  19. ^ "Campbell Becomes Temporary Substitute LG". State of Alaska. July 26, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  20. ^ "House Journal, Alaska State Legislature, Twenty-Sixth Legislature, First Special Session". State of Alaska. August 10, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  21. ^ "John Henry Kinkead". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  22. ^ "Sheakley, James". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  23. ^ "Gruening, Ernest". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved August 13, 2008.
  24. ^ "Walter J. Hickel". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 15, 2008.
  25. ^ "Tony Knowles". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  26. ^ "Murkowski, Frank Hughes". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved August 13, 2008.

External links

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