Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin's Bombshell

As far as I can tell, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's announcement today that she will resign in three weeks and Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell will become governor at the Governor's Picnic in Fairbanks was a complete surprise. It certainly seems to have caught everyone off guard.

I have found no indication that there were even a few rumors swirling around before Palin made the announcement, but, as KTUU reports, there have been rumors recently that she would not seek re–election next year. I have seen no hints that anyone suspected she might be planning to step down, though. Must be a real jaw–dropper.

There will be plenty of speculation in the days to come.

Is she preparing for a White House run in 2012? I'm not sure. I know she's working on a book, and it's possible she plans to use it as the springboard for her campaign. She certainly wouldn't be the first to do that. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

Sure to fuel speculation that Palin is setting her sights on 2012 is a comment from a "Republican source" that is being reported by Mark Preston and Peter Hamby of CNN. The source told Preston and Hamby that he thinks Palin is "mapping out a path to 2012."

If she is thinking about seeking the presidential nomination, it would be a good idea to be raising some campaign funds. In the last few decades, the party that has not occupied the White House has been inclined to draw a crowded field of candidates. He (or she) who hesitates may well be lost.

What are her other options?

Well, part of the problem is that Alaska is so remote and the media outside the state give little attention to its elected officials, even the year after its governor ran for vice president.

A U.S. Senate seat is up in Alaska next year. The incumbent is Republican Lisa Murkowski, who was appointed in 2002 by her father to take the seat he vacated to become governor. She won a full term in 2004 with 58% of the vote, but she hasn't always been popular.

Could Palin be thinking about challenging a fellow Republican for that nomination? I don't think so. I've seen no indication that she is displeased with Murkowski's work as a senator — but I've heard nothing about Murkowski's plans.

And, of course, the House seat is up. The incumbent, Republican Don Young, has represented Alaska in the House for 36 years, but he faced a tough time in the 2008 election. Young recently turned 76 and may be thinking of retirement. If he does retire, Palin might be thinking of running for the vacant seat.

Or she may be thinking about pursuing a career outside politics.

What do you think she will do?

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