The total number of women US Senators rose to 14 in December, a new record, when Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) appointed his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, to finish his term after being elected governor of Alaska. Lisa Murkowski, currently a Republican state representative and House majority leader, will serve through 2004, according to the Associated Press.
Gov. Murkowski leaned far to the right in his 22 years in the Senate, receiving perfect scores from such right-wing organizations as the National Rifle Association, the National Right to Life Committee, and the Christian Coalition, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. His daughter is more moderate, co-sponsoring a bill in the state legislature to cover contraceptives in health insurance programs, voting against a bill limiting state funding for abortions for poor women, and ordering a study of gender equity in the salaries of state employees, according to the News-Miner. However, the News-Miner reports that she has also indicated that she supports abortion rights only in the cases of incest, rape, or threats to the life of the mother, she is against gay marriage, and she supports opening the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.
Eleven women ran for US Senate seats in the 2002 midterm elections, tying the previous record in 1992. The current 14 women Senators are composed of nine Democrats and five Republicans.