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Murkowski campaign chief named to Interior Department post

WASHINGTON — Steve Wackowski, who led Sen. Lisa Murkowski's 2016 campaign for re-election, will serve as a senior adviser for Alaska affairs for the Department of Interior, Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Tuesday.

Wackowski will work for the Interior Department from Anchorage, which marks a shift from the previous administration, when former Alaska adviser Kim Steven Elton worked from Washington, D.C.

Zinke made the announcement as he continued a trip around the state that began over the weekend.

Wackowski previously worked on Murkowski's 2010 campaign; he was Sen. Ted Stevens' last press secretary, and also worked on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee before moving back to Alaska.

FILE: Then-Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, talks to Stephen Wackowski on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on July 13, 2006. (Chuck Kennedy / MCT)

Wackowski graduated from Bartlett High School in Anchorage, and worked for his family's halibut and salmon sport-fishing business in Ninilchik, according to the Interior Department. He attended Saint Mary's College in California, and currently serves as a major in the Air Force Reserve.

"A lifelong Alaskan and Air Force Major, Steve is perfectly qualified to advise me on Alaskan issues," Zinke said in a statement. "His broad range of experience will prove to be invaluable as the Department focuses on future energy opportunities in Alaska, the welfare of Alaska Natives, and the vast expanses of lands and waters under Interior's management."

Wackowski said that he looks forward to working "with our state, local, and First Alaskan partners to help unlock Alaska's potential."

In a statement Tuesday, Murkowski said she is "incredibly pleased" that Wackowski has been appointed to the position.

"Secretary Zinke is building a strong team for Alaska, putting good people in the right places to help our state," Murkowski said.

Heather Swift, Zinke's press secretary, said Wackowski won't be the last Alaskan appointed to serve at the Interior Department in the Trump administration. More positions will be announced in the coming weeks and months, Swift said.

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