Murkowski vacationing in Houston before stop in D.C

Posted: Friday, December 13, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Gov. Frank Murkowski will spend three days in Houston visiting with friends, some of whom are in the energy industry, a press spokesman said.

The governor's office has refused to say what Murkowski will do in Houston, but characterized the trip as personal and not official state business. Murkowski left Juneau on Wednesday.

''He's going down there meeting with some energy people,'' said press spokesman John Manly. ''This is all a personal trip. No state funds are involved.''

Manly refused to say who Murkowski was meeting with or what his plans were for the stop in Houston.

''He's just taking some down time with some friends of his who are in the energy industry,'' Manly said.

After leaving Houston, the governor is expected to travel to Washington, D.C., where he will pack up belongings from his U.S. Senate office and residence and attend some official functions.

Murkowski is scheduled to attend an all-day meeting between White House staff members of President Bush and newly elected Republican governors. The president will attend part of the meeting.

''It's to acquaint them with higher-profile issues like homeland security,'' Manly said.

Murkowski resigned from the Senate Dec. 2 to be sworn in as Alaska's governor. He resigned after 22 years as the state's junior senator.

While Murkowski is out of Alaska, state business will be overseen by Jim Clark, Murkowski's chief of staff, Manly said.

On Monday that business will include the release of the governor's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. Cheryl Frasca, Murkowski's budget director, will make the announcement.

It's unknown what effect Murkowski's absence will have on the announcement for his replacement in the U.S. Senate. An announcement had been anticipated earlier this week, but Murkowski said he needed more time.

''He has until Jan. 1,'' Manly said. ''It's a difficult decision.''

Former Republican state Sen. Johne Binkley, a Fairbanks businessman considered by many as a front-runner for the job, said he has not heard much more from Murkowski's people except that the decision has been postponed.

''Rumors abound,'' Binkley said.

Murkowski also has not finished assembling his 14-person Cabinet. So far he has named five commissioners and the attorney general.



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