WASHINGTON (CNN) – Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski placed a distant third in his state's GOP gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, behind former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin and former state Sen. John Binkley.
It's not often that incumbent governors lose their party's primary for another term, it's even more rare when an incumbent governor places third. Why did Murkowski lose? One analyst said his personality may be part of the reason.
"Governor Frank Murkowski is very unpopular, despite his nearly 22 years in the U.S. Senate (1981-2002) and easy victory for governor in 2002," University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said on his Web site.
"So what's the problem? It's partly personality, partly a rocky economy and partly his audacious appointment of his lightly-qualified daughter Lisa Murkowski to succeed him in the Senate."
Murkowski was elected governor in 2002 after serving 22 years as the state's junior U.S. Senator. Once elected, one of Murkowski's first decisions in office was to appoint his daughter, Lisa Murkowski (R), to his U.S. Senate seat.
Former Gov. Tony Knowles won the Democratic nomination and will face Palin in November. Knowles is a former two-term governor and the 2004 Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. He lost that race to Lisa Murkowski.
With nearly 70 percent of the precincts reporting, Palin had 51.1 percent, Binkley 29.5 percent, and Murkowski 18.9 percent, according to the Alaska Division of Elections.
Other incumbents who have lost primary bids this year are Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga. and Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Mich.
Lieberman has since launched an independent bid for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. He lost his Aug. 8 Democratic primary to millionaire businessman Ned Lamont.