Anthony Carroll Knowles (born January 1 1943 in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an American Democratic politician and businessman who served as Governor of Alaska from December 1994 to December 2002. Barred from seeking a third consecutive term as governor in 2002, he ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2004 and again for governor in 2006.
He earned a degree in economics from Yale University in 1968. There, he was a Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity brother of George W. Bush. After graduation, he moved to Alaska and worked on oil drilling rigs on the North Slope and in Cook Inlet. In 1969, Knowles started his first of four restaurants including the Downtown Deli & Café in Anchorage.
Knowles won the 1998 election in a landslide, defeating Republican John Lindauer 51%-18%. Knowles margin of victory in this race was due largely to a collapsed campaign from Republican John Lindauer, controversy surrounding Lindauer and his misrepresentation of facts on campaign finance documents, and questions about Lindauer's state residency. Republican Robin L. Taylor, who was defeated in the primary by Lindauer, garnered 20% of the vote after announcing his write-in campaign only one week prior to the election. Knowles did not run for reelection in 2002 due to a consecutive two-term limit. Alaska law allows for more terms, but requires a break between two consecutive terms and a third.
During his term, Knowles established Denali Kid Care, which provided basic health care for 25,000 children and 5,000 pregnant women. The National Child Welfare League named Knowles as their Child Advocate of the Year in 1998.
Governor Knowles forged the "Millennium Agreement", a government-to-government agreement with tribes to foster rural delivery of services and economic development. He earned special recognition by the National Congress of American Indians in 2001 and the Alaska Federation of Natives Denali Award, the highest award given to a non-native.
Knowles pushed Canadian officials to adopt his "safe passage" principle to protect Pacific salmon and their freshwater habitat, leading to the successful negotiation of the first coast wide salmon treaty in decades.
During his final term as governor, Republicans in the Alaska Legislature attacked him as a weak leader who avoided taking a position on several issues, as exemplified by their "Where's Tony?" campaign.
In 2004, he ran for the United States Senate, as the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski, who had been appointed to her seat by her father, former Senator then Governor Frank Murkowski. Knowles was at first thought likely to win by many, but he was narrowly defeated in the election.
Knowles is an outspoken opponent of capital punishment.
Knowles is pro-choice, and opposes restrictions on abortion at any stage of pregnancy. He vetoed several bills passed by the state legislature regarding abortion including a ban on partial-birth abortions.
On May 29, 2006, he announced his bid to return to the governor's office in 2006. On August 22, 2006, Knowles defeated Eric Croft in the Democratic primary to become the Democratic nominee for Governor of Alaska in the general election.
On November 7, 2006, Knowles lost the Governorship in the general election to Republican Sarah Palin. Although many had predicted a close race, including pollsters for both parties, Knowles lost by 7 points, polling lower than in his 2004 bid for the U.S. Senate.