ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Alaska's largest labor organization on Monday endorsed Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer for governor.
The state chapter of the AFL-CIO took the vote after hearing position statements from Ulmer, a Democrat, and Sen. Frank Murkowski, a Republican, at a special convention held at an Anchorage hotel.
The AFL-CIO state chapter has more than 60,000 members with 62 labor organizations, including the Alaska State Employees Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the United Food and Commercial Workers.
''It's great to receive this endorsement and know we have the full support of AFL-CIO,'' Ulmer said. ''My plan is to make Alaska the best place to raise a family and that means a strong economy with good paying jobs for Alaskans. The organizations that are part of the AFL-CIO play a key role in shaping the future of Alaska's economic prosperity.''
Mano Frey, executive president of the Alaska AFL-CIO, said the vote in support of Ulmer was nearly unanimous.
Frey said several factors played into the strong support for the lieutenant governor, including the feeling that Ulmer is more familiar than Murkowski with issues that are important to AFL-CIO members.
''I've known Fran for a long time. She has a long record of working on issues that benefit working families and she'll make sure Alaska's economic development benefits Alaska families,'' Frey said.
In her statement, Ulmer told the AFL-CIO that she supports worker protections, boosting the state minimum wage and seeing an Alaska natural gasline constructed.
Murkowski emphasized the importance of a diversified economy built upon well-paying jobs.
''While I respect their decision, I understand the AFL-CIO is strongly weighted toward unions who have traditionally endorsed Democratic politicians,'' Murkowski said.
In April, Murkowski, R-Alaska, received the support of Alaska Teamsters in what Jerry Hood, secretary/treasurer of Local 959 described as a difficult decision. Hood said his respect for Murkowski grew after the two worked together on Capital Hill to gather support to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development.
The Teamsters local represents about 7,000 workers and supported Democrat Gov. Tony Knowles in both his races for governor.
''There really wasn't anything negative about Frank Murkowski,'' Frey said, adding that some members like what Murkowski does in Washington for the state of Alaska and don't want to lose that.
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