ANCHORAGE -- The Alaska Teamsters on Friday endorsed Sen. Frank Murkowski in his bid for governor.
Murkowski, R-Alaska, appeared at a joint news conference in Anchorage with Jerry Hood, secretary/treasurer of Local 959. Hood is special assistant on energy policy to Teamsters President James P. Hoffa.
Hood said his respect for Murkowski grew over several months as the two worked together on Capital Hill seeking support to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's coastal plain to oil development.
Congress is near the end of a two-week recess. Hood said he and Murkowski will tackle the ANWR issue again after lawmakers return on Monday.
If Murkowski becomes Alaska's next governor, it would help lift the state's economy, said Hood, citing nearly 2,500 jobs lost in the oil industry alone since the Knowles administration came into office.
The decision to endorse Murkowski over Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, a Democrat who Hood described as a friend, was a difficult one, he said. But Hood said Alaska's ailing economy, and this week's announcement of job reductions at the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., convinced him Murkowski was the preferred candidate.
The local, representing about 7,000 workers, supported Democrat Gov. Tony Knowles in both his races for governor.
Murkowski thanked Hood for his support.
''We can turn this state around,'' he said.
Ulmer told KTUU-TV that she was surprised by the endorsement given Murkowski's voting record on labor issues. The lieutenant governor has picked up several labor endorsements, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the state employees union.
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