Sean R. Parnell (born November 19, 1962) is an American Republican politician who is the tenth and current Governor of Alaska. He succeeded Sarah Palin following her resignation, and was sworn in at the Governor's Picnic in Fairbanks on July 26, 2009. Parnell was elected to a full term as Governor in November 2010, becoming the first unelected Alaska Governor to be later elected in his own right.
Sean Parnell was born in Hanford, California to Kevin P. "Pat" Parnell (born September 16, 1937) and Thelma Carol (née Liebherr) Parnell. at Parnell was stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska while in the U.S.
Army in the late 1950s. He returned to Alaska, moving his young family to Anchorage in 1973, and established a photocopy and office supply business alongside the busy Seward Highway in midtown Anchorage. Growing up in Anchorage, the Parnell family lived several blocks from East Anchorage High School, which Sean graduated from in 1980. He has a younger brother named Schöen. Parnell attended Pacific Lutheran University, earning his B.B.A. in 1984, and University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University School of Law) earning his law degree in 1987. He is admitted to the bar in both Alaska and Washington D.C.
In 1992, Parnell was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives, where he served two terms and was a member of the finance committee. In 1996, he ran for and was elected to a seat in the Alaska Senate. In the Senate, he was a member of the Energy Council and served on and then co-chaired the Senate finance committee.
In 2005, Parnell ran in the Republican primary to become lieutenant governor. In the general election, he ran as Palin's running mate. In Alaska, the lieutenant governor runs separately from the governor in the primaries, but after the primaries, the nominees for governor and lieutenant governor run together as a slate.
Palin and Parnell were elected.
Governor of Alaska
On July 26, 2009, halfway through her term as governor, Sarah Palin resigned. Parnell replaced her becoming Alaska's 10th governor in accordance with the Alaska Constitution. Parnell ran for a full term as governor in 2010. In the primary, he faced off against Bill Walker, a former Cabinet member and aide to former governor Walter J. Hickel, and Ralph Samuels, a retiring member of the Alaska House of Representatives.
Though Walker seemed to gain a lot of traction towards the end based on the issue of building a long-awaited natural gas pipeline, Samuels and Walker split the anti-Parnell vote and Parnell won the nomination. He faced off against former House Majority Leader and 2008 Congressional nominee, Ethan Berkowitz. and was elected with Mead Treadwell who had won the August primary for Lieutenant Governor. Though Berkowitz, and former 2006 Congressional nominee, Diane Benson, seemed to have the strongest ticket seen by Democrats in a while that included endorsements from Walker; Parnell-Treadwell eventually defeated Berkowitz-Benson by over ten points.