The only money I ever made in politics, aside from my legislative salary, was $10,000 that Frank Murkowski gave me in 1980. He was running for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Clark Gruening, and they were running dead even in the polls. In the legislature Clark had co-sponsored a constitutional amendment called the Environmental Bill of Rights. A very bad move, politically. Alaskans don’t like environmentalists. It’s a dirty word. Frank, and his campaign manager, my friend Bill McConkey, were struggling to find a way to nail him on it. They hired me, I did the hit, and Frank shot up ten points in the polls. That’s what he won by.
I wanted to succeed Frank in the Senate. Everybody knew that. He wanted to be Governor. When he made his move, I’d run for his seat. In 1992 he ran for a third term, and I thought he’d go for the governorship in 1994, but he passed. 1998 was his year. Democrat Tony Knowles was running for reelection, and Frank was the only Republican who could beat him. I was set to run for Frank’s seat. I was 53 and in my prime. My newspaper column and talk radio show had maintained my political viability, and I was raring to go.
Frank ran for a fourth term, and I could see the handwriting on the wall. It was not to be. When his daughter, Lisa, ran for the State House, I knew what was up. She was a young wife and mother, and had no business serving in the state legislature. She wasn’t all that bright, for one thing. I’m being nice.
When my wife came to Alaska with me she made quite a sacrifice, and she always wanted to get back to California, her family, and friends. So we made the move in 2001. Frank was elected Governor in 2002, and interviewed a lot of people, trying to decide who he should appoint to serve out his term in the Senate. My buddy Rick Halford, an extremely bright guy, was one of them. I was in California, but I knew what Frank was up to. After giving it a lot of thought,he decided his daughter, Lisa, was the best person for the job, and appointed her.
So for twelve years I was out of politics, living the life of Riley in sunny California. I went to Alaska to get into Congress, and had failed. Then, a year and a half ago, I saw a chance to get back in the game, working for Article V. I’m enjoying myself a lot more than I would be if I was in Washington. And Article V is a lot more important than anything I could have done as a Senator.
The Lord works in mysterious ways.