Any Bush cabinet likely would be without Young or Murkowski

Posted: Wednesday, November 29, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- It's beginning to look a lot less likely that Rep. Don Young or Sen. Frank Murkowski will be taking cabinet posts if Gov. George W. Bush is elected president.

Earlier speculation had mentioned both Alaska Republicans as possible candidates for high-ranking Bush administration jobs.

Both have said they might consider such appointments under certain conditions. But both are saying they haven't been approached.

If Murkowski moved to the administration, then his initial successor would be picked by Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat. State law requires Knowles to pick a member of the predecessor's political party, so Murkowski could move to a Bush administration job without worrying about dismantling the narrow Republican control of the Senate.

Senate Republicans and Democrats appear split 50-50, but a Republican vice president could cast a tie-breaking vote.

Murkowski ranks 12th in seniority among Senate Republicans, so he may be pressured to keep his seat until 2004 to avoid giving Democrats a weaker GOP candidate to run against in the 2002 elections.

While the governor gets to name a successor, state law says Alaskans must elect a new senator in the next round of primary and general elections. That would make it 2002 in this case.

Speculation about Murkowski's future started this summer when the senator filled in for Bush at a National Press Club speech on energy issues.

Since then, Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, usually has chuckled and declined to speculate when asked about the prospects of becoming Bush's energy secretary.

Murkowski spokesman Chuck Kleeschulte told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner there has been ''absolutely no indication'' from the Bush campaign that Murkowski is being considered for such a job.

Young, meanwhile, has said he would consider becoming secretary of the Interior if conditions were right. But that would have been only if Democrats had taken control of the House and if Young had lost his committee clout.

Republicans kept their House majority, so Young is assuming he will become chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, spokesman Greg Thom said.

Under House Republican rules, Young must give up his chairmanship of the House Resources Committee at the end of this session.

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