WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Frank Murkowski said Tuesday that uncertainty over when Congress will finish its work this year prompted the abrupt announcement of his candidacy for governor.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Murkowski explained why the announcement was made in a press release before he hopped on a plane for Washington. The suddenness of the announcement, made without the usual political fanfare, surprised some political watchers.
But Murkowski said that he and his wife, Nancy, concluded it was time to get things rolling.
''We made the decision. I would have preferred to have gone to my home in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau and Ketchikan. But that takes time, and I had a weekend so we figured that the issue, obviously, was the decision. And we made the decision, and we issued it with, I think, a very complete and thoughtful press release,'' Murkowski said.
Murkowski plans to formally file his candidacy with the Alaska Public Offices Commission within the next few days. He has tapped two former state legislators for his campaign. Steve Frank will serve as campaign treasurer and Andy Warwick as deputy treasurer. Murkowski has not yet chosen a campaign manager.
Murkowski will have to start from scratch with fund raising because no money from his Senate campaign war chest can be used for his gubernatorial campaign.
''We can't use excess campaign funds for a gubernatorial race,'' Murkowski said.
Murkowski acknowledged that it may be difficult for him to campaign while the Senate is in session, but he anticipates making visits to Alaska and buying plenty of television ads. He said his priorities include working out a long-term fiscal plan for the state, but he didn't provide specifics.
''I intend to work with the legislature to work towards fiscal responsibility in the State of Alaska. And how we do that will be by a process of working together. And I'm not going to comment on what I'm going to do specifically about that at this time. After all, we've only been in this mode for less that 24 hours,'' he said.
He also said he wants to work to resolve the state's subsistence dilemma, but said he was not prepared to spell out how he would do that.
Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens said they strongly support Murkowski's decision and said his move won't hamper efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development.
Under Republican seniority rules, Murkowski will have to give up his post as top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee next year. He said that makes this a good time to bring a fresh face into the Alaska congressional delegation.
''This is an opportunity to bring along some new blood. And I think it's important that Alaska maintains that continuity,'' Murkowski said.
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