Gov. Frank Murkowski has told several fellow Republicans they are no longer in the running to fill out his vacant U.S. Senate seat, and many Republicans say his daughter could be the top choice to replace him.

Several GOP hopefuls interviewed earlier by the governor have told the Associated Press they are no longer being considered. Former Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin, who was told this week she would not get the job, was among those who said she believes Rep. Lisa Murkowski is the most likely contender.

"From those who were interviewed to where we are today, I don't think anyone is left," Palin said.

Lisa Murkowski did not return repeated phone calls for comment.

State Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich said the governor's daughter, a two-term legislator, would be a good selection. "Lisa has significant legislative experience," Ruedrich said.

But some in the state party fear her moderate voting record could attract a challenge in 2004 from the party's conservative wing.

Murkowski resigned the Senate seat he held for 22 years when he was sworn in as governor Dec. 2. He has a month from that day to appoint a new senator.

Murkowski will hold a news conference in Anchorage when he returns on Friday. Spokesman John Manly said he does not know who the governor will select.

Johne Binkley, the Alaska Railroad board chairman who had been considered by many in the GOP to be the leading contender, said Murkowski did not say why he was passing him over.

Murkowski had said state Sen. Ben Stevens, son of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, was a candidate. But Stevens said he is not interested in the job.