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Parnell is expected to continue Palin's policies

Megan Holland
US House candidates Sean Parnell, left, and Ethan Berkowitz talk before the start of a forum at the Mountain View Community Center on May 16, 2008.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska Lt. Governor Sean Parnell and Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg at a press conference at the Atwood Building in Anchorage after the announcement of John McCain's pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate on Friday August 29, 2008.
Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News
Sandy Parnell and Sean Parnell at his headquarters on Tuesday August 26, 2008 after Sandy Parnell gave a television interview.
Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska Lt. Governor Sean Parnell met with Republican Vice Presidential candidate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, right, and her husband Todd Palin, left, before they boarded a plane in Anchorage on Election Day, November 4, 2008.
Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News
House Finance Committee co-chairman Gene Therriault, left, talks with Anchorage Senator Sean Parnell during a recess of the committee's Thursday morning meeting on the captial budget. ADN/ Jim Lavrakas
Jim Lavrakas / ADN
Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell chats with tourists from New Jersey at a celebration in Town Square following the inauguration of Dan Sullivan as mayor of Anchorage Wednesday July 1, 2009 at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell speaks during a press conference in Anchorage concerning the governor's newly determined taxable expense money.
Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News
Supporters greet governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin after she is introduced by Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell at a rally Saturday morning September 13, 2008 at the new Dena'ina Civic & Convention Center in Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Piper Palin eyes an autograph seeker as Todd Palin greets Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell following a surprise appearance at a rally for Sarah Palin and Republican candidates Saturday afternoon October 4, 2008 at the Dena'ina Civic & Convention Center.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, left, and Gov. Sarah Palin serve food at the Governor's Picnic Saturday July 19, 2008 on the Delaney Park Strip.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who will become governor on July 26, is expected to stay the course of Gov. Sarah Palin's administration.

"I'm going to try to keep our team in place as best we can. I think we can have a seamless and stable transition," he said after Palin's announcement that she will be resigning two-and-a-half years into her first term.

Parnell, 46, also said that he will make his own run to be elected governor in 2010 when the term he is finishing for Palin will end. "I'm all in," he said.

His first priority, he said, will be to continue work on the proposed natural gas pipeline from the North Slope oil and gas fields, a project that Palin championed and one that he has been an active participant in.

He said that while he plans to continue with many of Palin's policies, Alaskans can also expect something different from him. "Because I'm a different person, I'll have some different focuses," he said. Specifically, he said, crime, domestic violence and women's and children's issues are things he cares about.

While in the state Legislature, he worked on domestic violence laws and a DNA registration bill to catch criminals.

He said that during the 1990s in the Legislature he reached across party lines to build consensus. "But I also didn't do it at the cost of my principles."

Parnell is considered to be "at least as conservative as Palin," said state Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich, who has known Parnell since the early 1990s.

"He's very conservative, very pro-development," Ruedrich said.

As a state senator from South Anchorage, Parnell was a budget hawk who pushed to slash the budget across the board. Fiscal conservancy is something he is still proud of, and he said on Friday that Alaskans can expect him to be more hands on in the budget development process, as opposed to Palin's fiscal conservancy that usually came with the veto pen.

Parnell said he's told all the commissioners that he would like them to stay on but is having individual conversations with them to ask them about what they want to do, he said. "My hope is that everyone stays on, but I also understand that they came to serve under Sarah Palin."

At least one of those cabinet officers, Department of Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt, said he will stay. "I've worked very well with Lt. Gov. Parnell up until this point," he said. "We agree on philosophy and direction."

"We've had several conversations about the direction of Corrections and law enforcement and how they interact with society and I'm very much looking forward to working with him," Schmidt said.

Parnell, who has been based in Anchorage and not the state capital of Juneau, said he hadn't yet decided if he would spend much of his time in Anchorage, as Palin did, or if he would move to Juneau as previous governors have.

Parnell was born in California but moved to Alaska in his youth. He graduated from East High School before going to Pacific Lutheran University for undergraduate work and Seattle University to study law. He served four years in the state House then four more in the state Senate before not seeking re-election in 2000, going to work instead for what is now Conoco Phillips.

In 2003 he returned to government service as deputy director of oil and gas for the state, leaving that post in 2005. That job later influenced his active role on Palin's gas pipeline team.

He won election to the lieutenant governor's job in November 2006 on the Republican ticket with Palin. Last year, he ran for Congress unsuccessfully, losing the Republican primary by 304 votes to incumbent Rep. Don Young.

During that race last year, Parnell positioned himself politically to the right of Young, and particularly knocked the popular congressional pastime of using earmarks -- directions in spending bills that members of Congress use to steer money to their home districts. Young has been a champion of the earmark process.

Politics was in Parnell's family. His father served on the Anchorage Assembly and in the Legislature, and ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Democrat.

Parnell and his wife, Sandy, have two daughters.

Parnell will be inaugurated at the governor's picnic in Fairbanks.


By MEGAN HOLLAND
mholland@adn.com