Washington (AP) -- State Judge Ralph Beistline of Fairbanks is another step closer to being Alaska's next federal judge.
His nomination was unanimously approved Thursday by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
Beistline is expected to fill the vacancy left by H. Russel Holland's retirement last year.
Alaska Sens. Frank Murkowski and Ted Stevens welcomed the unanimous support shown by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Murkowski said Beistline was born in Fairbanks and has the ability to fully understand the complex issues the state faces.
''Judge Beistline, throughout his career, has built a reputation of providing reasoned and prudent legal judgments. It is a testament to his ability that he won such quick approval from the panel,'' Murkowski said.
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