When the senate campaign between Lisa Murkowski and Tony Knowles began 90% of Alaskans did not like the fact that republican Murkowski was appointed to her senate seat by her father:
Frank Murkowski, a barrel-chested conservative fixture in this Republican-dominated state, held Lisa’s job for two decades until he was elected governor in 2002. Then, to the disgust of many Alaskans, he selected his daughter, an obscure state legislator, to serve out his Senate term.
The father, thanks to the unpopular appointment and even more unpopular cuts in the state budget, has since become the most disliked governor in this state’s short history, several pollsters say. The daughter, while garnering positive reviews for her brief season in Washington, has been unable to shake the taint of nepotism. And that taint, depending on results in a few tight contests in the lower 48, could end up tipping the U.S. Senate back to the Democrats.
On a recent campaign swing that took her north of the Arctic Circle, it was clear that many voters do not like it. Here in a coastal village where native people subsist on caribou, whale meat and berries, the borough mayor squired the senator around with painstaking civility, apologizing that berry picking had kept most villagers away from her town meeting. Yet when the senator was out of earshot, Mayor Roswell Schaeffer Sr. explained that he is peeved by what “Lisa’s dad did.”
“It’s going to have a negative impact,” Schaeffer said. “I think her dad was wrong in the way he did it.”
In a state that is more than 14 times the size of Virginia, bad vibes from the appointment linger: Bumper stickers snidely ask, “Yo, Lisa, who’s yer daddy?” Her own campaign signs tacitly acknowledge the problem. They shout “Lisa” in big block letters and whisper “Murkowski” in smaller print.