Lisa Murkowski is a third-generation Alaskan, born in Ketchikan. She currently lives in Anchorage. She attended Willamette University and Georgetown University, where she earned a bachelor's degree. She received a law degree from Willamette College of Law.
Murkowski began her political career in the Alaska Legislature, where she was elected to the state House and served from 1998 to 2002.
She was appointed to the U.S. Senate by her father, former Gov. Frank Murkowski, in 2002. The elder Murkowski served in the U.S. Senate for 22 years before becoming governor. She was elected to her first full term in 2004, defeating Tony Knowles, a two-term Democratic governor.
She and her husband, Verne, have two sons.
In 2010, Lisa Murkowski became the first U.S. Senate candidate since 1954 to win a write-in campaign.
Murkowski waged the long-shot bid after being stunned in the Republican primary by tea party favorite Joe Miller. In announcing her run, in September 2010, she said she felt a responsibility toward the state. She told supporters "the gloves are off," vowed not to repeat mistakes made during the primary and asked Alaskans — from all parties and backgrounds — to stand with her and to support her effort. Signs reading "Let's Make History" dotted the venue where she made the announcement.
Murkowski blasted Miller late in the campaign for wrongly characterizing her position on the 2010 health care reform law. Miller repeatedly claimed — and the California-based Tea Party Express also touted in its ads — that Murkowski opposed repealing the plan, something she vehemently denied. Miller stood behind his statements.
Murkowski handed out blue bracelets with "Lisa Murkowski" and a filled-in oval on them, providing a primer to Alaskans on how to cast their ballot for her.
Murkowski got help in her successful bid from a super political action committee formed by Alaska Native corporations called Alaskans Standing Together.
Since returning to Washington, Murkowski — once labeled a "RINO," or Republican in name only, by critics — has returned to her more centrist roots, a reflection of her promise that she would represent all Alaskans.
Murkowski's quiet manner masks a steely ambition. As Alaska's senior senator, she sought to fill a role previously occupied by the legendary Ted Stevens, who during four decades in the Senate delivered more money for his home state than almost any other figure in Senate history. Stevens, who died in a plane crash just weeks before the August 2010 primary, was a strong supporter of Murkowski's.
Even a serious skiing accident could not slow Murkowski's rise. A March 2009 tumble on Alaska's Mount Alyeska left her confined to a wheelchair and crutches, but did not stop her from returning to Washington in time to vote the next day on a $410 billion spending package that included nearly $200 million for Alaska.
A report by the watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, ranked Murkowski No. 12 among senators in securing pet projects in the spending bill. Earmarks she helped secure added up to $181.5 million for Alaska, including some secured when Stevens was still in the Senate.
Murkowski's ascent has been steady. Elected to her first full term in 2004, she is the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, a crucial role for her oil-producing state.
She also won a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee and has been named to the Senate GOP's leadership team — the only woman among eight men.
Murkowski's path to power was unlikely. She was chosen in 2002 by her father, the newly elected governor, to fill the vacant seat he left in the U.S. Senate. She was chosen over a long list of prominent Alaska Republicans, raising the ire of some in the GOP.
But she overcame claims of nepotism to win her first full Senate term in 2004, defeating Democratic challenger Tony Knowles, a popular former two-term governor.
In that same election, voters approved a ballot initiative that removed the governor's ability to make appointments to U.S. Senate vacancies.
She was part of a small band of Republican senators who in 2005 blocked reauthorization of the Patriot Act to protest the elimination of protections against government surveillance, defying the wishes of President George W. Bush. A compromise was later reached.
Murkowski supports increased oil and gas drilling on federal lands — including those in Alaska. Still, she is considered more moderate than many in the GOP caucus. She supported a fair-pay act for women and an expansion of children's health insurance, both Democratic priorities enacted in 2009.
Committee Assignments: Energy and Natural Resources; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Indian Affairs; Appropriations
American Conservative Union Rating: 50
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 40
Lisa Murkowski is not up for re-election in 2014.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on September 5, 2014.)