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Tony Knowles (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tony Knowles
7th Governor of Alaska
In office
December 5, 1994 – December 2, 2002
LieutenantFran Ulmer
Preceded byWally Hickel
Succeeded byFrank Murkowski
Mayor of Anchorage
In office
January 1, 1982 – December 31, 1987
Preceded byGeorge M. Sullivan
Succeeded byTom Fink
Personal details
Anthony Carroll Knowles

(1943-01-01) January 1, 1943 (age 78)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Susan Morris
(m. 1968)
EducationYale University (BA)
Military service
AllegianceUnited States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1962–1966
Unit82nd Airborne Division
Battles/warsVietnam War

Anthony Carroll Knowles (born January 1, 1943) is an American politician and businessman who served as the seventh governor of Alaska from December 1994 to December 2002. Barred from seeking a third consecutive term as governor in 2002, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and again for governor in 2006. In September 2008, Knowles became president of the National Energy Policy Institute, a non-profit energy policy organization funded by billionaire George Kaiser's family foundation, and located at the University of Tulsa.

Knowles was discussed as a potential Secretary of the Interior or Secretary of Energy in an Obama cabinet, but in December 2008, Knowles was passed over in favor of Steven Chu as Energy secretary. He was also passed over in favor of Ken Salazar as Interior secretary. On April 28, 2010, Knowles was appointed to the National Park System Advisory Board by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. As of 2021, he is the most recent Governor of Alaska from the Democratic Party.

Earlier life

Knowles was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He volunteered for the United States Army in 1962, joining the 82nd Airborne Division, and later served in Vietnam. Knowles achieved passage of legislation to create guaranteed veterans housing in the state's Pioneer's Homes, and honored their service through official days of recognition and the naming of Mount POW/MIA.[1]

He earned a degree in economics from Yale University in 1968. There, he was a Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi chapter) brother of George W. Bush. After graduation, he moved to Alaska and worked on oil drilling rigs on the North Slope and in Cook Inlet. In 1969, Knowles started his first of four restaurants including the Downtown Deli & Café in Anchorage.

An avid fly fisherman, cross-country skier, and (retired) marathon runner, Tony Knowles and his wife, former First Lady of Alaska Susan Knowles, currently reside in Anchorage, Alaska. They have three children, Devon, Luke, and Sara. His older brother, Porter Knowles, resides in Kansas.

Political career

After three terms in the Anchorage Assembly, he served two terms as mayor of Anchorage from 1982 to 1987. Knowles first ran for governor in 1990, but was defeated by Walter Hickel. In 1994, he defeated former lieutenant governor Stephen McAlpine in the Democratic primary and was elected governor in the general election. Knowles's election was surprisingly close, but he also benefitted from the split conservative vote due to a strong third-party gubernatorial bid by the sitting lieutenant governor. In the election, Knowles received 41.1%, Republican candidate Jim Campbell 40.8% and lieutenant governor Jack Coghill of the Alaskan Independence Party 13%.

Knowles won the 1998 election in a landslide, defeating Republican John Lindauer 51%-18%. Knowles's margin of victory in this race was due largely to a collapsed campaign from Republican John Lindauer, controversy surrounding Lindauer and his misrepresentation of facts on campaign finance documents, and questions about Lindauer's state residency.[2] Republican Robin L. Taylor, who was defeated in the primary by Lindauer, garnered 20% of the vote after announcing his write-in campaign only one week prior to the election. Knowles did not run for reelection in 2002 due to a consecutive two-term limit. Alaska law allows for more terms, but requires a break between two consecutive terms and a third.

During the September 11 attacks, Korean Air Flight 85 from Seoul was feared to have been hijacked. Worried that a possible hijacked plane might strike a target in Alaska, Governor Tony Knowles ordered the evacuation of large hotels and government buildings in Anchorage.

Knowles was chair of the Western Governors' Association in 1997, two-term chair of the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission, and a member of the Pew Oceans Commission (POC).

During his term, Knowles established Denali Kid Care, which provides basic health care for 25,000 children and 5,000 pregnant women. The National Child Welfare League named Knowles as their Child Advocate of the Year in 1998.[citation needed]

A strong supporter of the Alaska National Guard, Knowles was recipient of the Guard's Pro Patria award and the 2001 Charles Dick Silver Medal of Merit.[3]

Governor Knowles forged the "Millennium Agreement", a government-to-government agreement with tribes to foster rural delivery of services and economic development. He earned special recognition by the National Congress of American Indians in 2001 and, with Marshall Lind, the 2002 Alaska Federation of Natives Denali Award, the highest award given to a non-native.[4]

Knowles pushed Canadian officials to adopt his "safe passage" principle to protect Pacific salmon and their freshwater habitat, leading to the successful negotiation of the first coast wide salmon treaty in decades.

During his final term as governor, Republicans in the Alaska Legislature attacked him as a weak leader who avoided taking a position on several issues, as exemplified by their "Where's Tony?" campaign.

In 2004, he ran for the United States Senate, as the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski, who had been appointed to her seat by her father, former Senator then Governor Frank Murkowski. Knowles was at first thought likely to win by many, but he was narrowly defeated in the election.

Knowles is an outspoken opponent of capital punishment.[5] Knowles is pro-choice, and opposes restrictions on abortion at any stage of pregnancy. He vetoed several bills passed by the state legislature regarding abortion including a ban on intact dilation and extraction abortions.[6]

On May 29, 2006, he announced his bid to return to the governor's office in 2006.[7] On August 22, 2006, Knowles defeated Eric Croft in the Democratic primary to become the Democratic nominee for Governor of Alaska in the general election.

On November 7, 2006, Knowles lost the Governorship in the general election to Republican Sarah Palin.[8] Although many had predicted a close race, including pollsters for both parties, Knowles lost by 7 points, polling lower than in his 2004 bid for the U.S. Senate.

Obama administration

Tony Knowles being interviewed for a video in his capacity as a member of the National Park Service Advisory Board.
Tony Knowles being interviewed for a video in his capacity as a member of the National Park Service Advisory Board.

In September 2008, Knowles became president of the National Energy Policy Institute, a non-profit energy policy organization funded by billionaire George Kaiser's family foundation, and located at the University of Tulsa.[9][10][11]

Due to his early support for Barack Obama, his status as a former governor of a western state, and his long-term involvement in oil and energy concerns, Knowles was discussed as a potential Secretary of the Interior or Secretary of Energy in an Obama cabinet. In December 2008 Knowles was passed over in favor of Steven Chu as Energy secretary, and passed over in favor of Ken Salazar as Interior secretary.[12]

National Park System Advisory Board

On April 28, 2010, Knowles was appointed to the National Park System Advisory Board by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.[13]

During his tenure, he opposed many of Zinke's policies, claiming in his resignation letter that Zinke had no interest in the "mitigation of climate change; engaging young generations; evolving a more diverse culture of park visitors, advocates and employees; bringing our schools to our parks and our parks to our schools; stressing park urbanization; (and) protecting the natural diversity of wildlife." Knowles led a mass resignation in Jan 2018, citing differences with the Interior Department, especially Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.[14]

Electoral history

1981 Anchorage mayoral election (first round)[15]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Tony Knowles 20,090 39.58
Nonpartisan Joe L. Hayes 20,059 39.51
Nonpartisan Dave Walsh 10,090 19.88
Nonpartisan Matt Hammer 419 0.83
Nonpartisan Drew M. Angel 144 0.28
Total votes 50,764
1981 Anchorage mayoral election (runoff)[16]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Tony Knowles 24,539 53.34
Nonpartisan Joe L. Hayes 21,463 46.66
Total votes 46,002
1984 Anchorage mayoral election[17]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Tony Knowles (incumbent) 32,624 49.4
Nonpartisan Tom Fink 32,437 49.1
Nonpartisan Craig Campbell 199 0.0
Nonpartisan Pat Sullivan 148 0.0
Nonpartisan Homer C. Miracle 144 0.0
Nonpartisan Aaron Belzer 121 0.0
Nonpartisan Andrew Rich 67 0.0
Write-in Write-ins 175 0.0
Total votes 65,915
1990 Alaska gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Alaskan Independence Walter Hickel 75,721 38.88
Democratic Tony Knowles 60,201 30.91
Republican Arliss Sturgulewski 50,991 26.18
Green Jim Sykes 6,563 3.37
1994 Alaska gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Tony Knowles 87,693 41.09
Republican Jim Campbell 87,157 40.84
Alaskan Independence Jack Coghill 27,838 13.04
Green Jim Sykes 8,727 4.09
1998 Alaska gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Tony Knowles (incumbent) 112,879 51.27
Republican Robin Taylor (write-in) 40,209 18.26
Republican John Lindauer 39,331 17.86
Republican Moderate Ray Metcalfe 13,540 6.15
Green Erica Jacobsson 6,618 3.01
2004 United States Senate election in Alaska[18]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Lisa Murkowski 149,773 48.6%
Democratic Tony Knowles 140,424 45.6%
Independent Marc Millican 8,885 2.9%
Alaskan Independence Jerry Sanders 3,785 1.2%
Green Jim Sykes 3,053 1.0%
Libertarian Scott Kohlhaas 1,240 0.4%
Independent Ted Gianoutsos 726 0.2%
Independent Write Ins 423 0.1%
2006 Alaska gubernatorial election[19]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Sarah Palin 114,697 48.33 -7.6
Democratic Tony Knowles 97,238 40.97 +0.3
Independent Andrew Halcro 22,443 9.46 n/a
Alaskan Independence Don Wright 1,285 0.54 -0.4
Libertarian Billy Toien 682 0.29 -0.2
Green David Massie 593 0.25 -1.0
Write-in candidate Write-in votes 384 0.16 +0.1
Plurality 17,459 7.36
Turnout 238,307 51.1
Republican hold Swing -7.6



  1. ^ "Governor Honors Veterans At Wasilla Wall of Honor". Sitka Daily News. 13 Nov. 2002. Web. Retrieved 8 Sept. 2011.
  2. ^ "In Alaska, Ex-Candidate Faces Criminal Charges." New York Times. 25 Aug. 1999. Web. Retrieved 8 Sept. 2011.
  3. ^ "Charles Dick Medal of Merit. Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine" National Guard Association of the United States of America. Web. Retrieved 8 Sept. 2011. Click link at bottom for list of past recipients[dead link].
  4. ^ Browning, Carla. "Chancellor Lind Receives AFN Denali Award." UAF News and Events. 28 Oct. 2002. Web. Retrieved 8 Sept. 2011.
  5. ^ "Tony Knowles on VoteMatch." On the Issues. Retrieved 8 Sept. 2011
  6. ^ " | Bills to Curb Abortions Are Vetoed in Alaska". New York Times. 1997-05-02. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  7. ^ | alaska : Knowles to run for governor Archived June 2, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Alaska Governor's Race - Sarah Palin, Tony Knowles - 2006 Midterm Elections - New York Times". Retrieved 2018-01-24.
  9. ^ Rod Walton, "Green group to locate at TU," Tulsa World, March 11, 2009.
  10. ^ Rod Walton, "Tulsa-based energy panel NEPI releases summary", Tulsa World, June 23, 2010.
  11. ^ Marc Ambinder, "Can These Two Democrats Inject Rationalism Into the Energy Debate?", The Atlantic, July 14, 2010.
  12. ^ Report: Former Alaska Gov. Knowles on list of Obama's possible Cabinet picks[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Former Gov. Knowles appointed to national board Archived 2011-08-11 at the Wayback Machine, Juneau Empire, April 29, 2010
  14. ^ "Former Alaska governor leads mass resignation from parks board". Newsminer. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  15. ^ "October 4, 1981 REGULAR ELECTION" (PDF). Municipality of Anchorage. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  16. ^ "RUN-OFF ELECTION OF 10/27/81 MAYORAL ELECTION" (PDF). Municipality of Anchorage. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  17. ^ "MUNICIPALITY OF ANCHORAGE REGULAR ELECTION OCTOBER 2, 1984 SUMMARY REPORT" (PDF). Municipality of Anchorage. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  18. ^ David Leip. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  19. ^ "Alaska Division of Elections November 7, 2006". Alaska Division of Elections. 2006-11-07. Retrieved 2019-04-22.


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
George M. Sullivan
Mayor of Anchorage
Succeeded by
Tom Fink
Preceded by
Wally Hickel
Governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Frank Murkowski
Party political offices
Preceded by
Steve Cowper
Democratic nominee for Governor of Alaska
1990, 1994, 1998
Succeeded by
Fran Ulmer
Preceded by
Joe Sonneman
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Alaska
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Scott McAdams
Preceded by
Fran Ulmer
Democratic nominee for Governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Ethan Berkowitz
This page was last edited on 7 March 2021, at 04:44
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