Sean Parnell was born in Hanford, Calif., and now lives in Juneau, Alaska. He earned a bachelor's degree from Pacific Lutheran University and a law degree from the University of Puget Sound.
He was elected to the state House in 1992, serving two terms before winning election to the state Senate, where he served one term.
Parnell was elected lieutenant governor in 2006, running with Sarah Palin. He inherited the governor's office from Palin in 2009, when she resigned from office. He was elected to the post, in his own right, in 2010.
He and his wife, Sandy, have two daughters.
Sean Parnell was elected governor in 2010, winning the office in his own right after inheriting it when Sarah Palin resigned in 2009. He was Palin's lieutenant governor.
While in office, his agenda has focused on family and fiscal issues. He has pushed for funding and programs aimed at curbing domestic violence and sexual assault; championed a state-funded scholarship program that he sees as critical to transforming Alaska's public education system and made record vetoes to budgets he considered too bloated.
Parnell also instituted a timetable for progress on a major natural gas pipeline project in 2012, and got the CEOs of the North Slope's major players to agree to consider a liquefied natural gas pipeline project.
His biggest defeat has been in his push to cut oil production taxes as a way to spur investment and get more oil in the trans-Alaska pipeline. In 2011, Senate leaders refused to take up his tax-cut plan, saying they didn't have the information needed to make a sound policy call. In 2012, the bipartisan Senate majority failed to reach consensus on a comprehensive oil tax overhaul and the plan the Senate did pass was deemed too little by Parnell. He put forth a new plan in a special session, which was panned by lawmakers in both parties before he pulled it from the call.
Parnell supports limiting the growth of state government, pointing to the fluctuation of oil prices and the continued decline in oil production. Oil proceeds are largely responsible for keeping the state government running, and much of the government's growth recently has been in entitlement programs, such as education and Medicaid.
While Parnell takes a hands-off approach to education — favoring, instead, what he considers reform, in the form of a scholarship program — he does want to hear proposals for how or whether to revamp the state's approach to Medicaid.
Parnell has fashioned himself as a fighter against what he considers unfair intrusion by the federal government on the state's affairs. Alaska has joined other states in filing suit regarding the 2010 health care reform bill, and the state recently filed suit regarding a moratorium on drilling in Arctic waters. Parnell has called the moratorium a potential jobs killer.
While he's been credited with having a relatively low-key style, Parnell has generated controversy, most notably with his oil tax plans. In 2010, he vetoed measures that would have changed Alaska's system of taxing oil and gas production, and another that would have expanded an insurance program for low-income pregnant women and kids.
Parnell said the first veto constituted an unfair tax increase on oil production and would send the wrong message to energy companies just as efforts aimed at building a major natural gas pipeline were starting to move forward. He said he vetoed the second measure because he learned the program would pay for abortions.
There also was controversy surrounding his hiring of two former state legislators as advisers. He said he relied in good faith on advice from the law department, and while Attorney General Dan Sullivan said that advice given wasn't unreasonable, he also said a court might disagree with it. Both aides resigned.
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Sean Parnell won his August 2014 primary, he will face Bill Walker in November.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on September 5, 2014.)