Although Alaska is heavily Republican, popular opinion had swung against the Murkowski family because of a tax increase passed by Governor Frank Murkowski, Lisa Murkowski's father. In addition, many voters disapproved of apparent nepotism in the appointment of Lisa Murkowski to the Senate. Knowles, who as mentioned above preceded Frank Murkowski as governor, had enlisted extensive out-of-state support for his bid to take over Lisa Murkowski's Senate seat. However, veteran Republican Senator Ted Stevens taped advertisements warning Alaskans that electing a Democrat could result in fewer federal dollars for Alaska.
Lisa Murkowski had very low approval ratings as senator due to her father, Frank Murkowski, who at the time was the governor of Alaska with extremely low approval ratings himself. Former governor Tony Knowles ran against Murkowski. He ran as a Democrat who supported drilling in ANWR, in contrast to most Democrats. Ted Stevens tried to "rescue" her campaign and help her maintain her seat.