Sarah Palin is ready to jump into close gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, but Politico reports
that Republican candidates do not seem to want her help. Both Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey have politely declined or ignored Palin's offer of her star power and crowd-drawing presence, which would almost certainly raise the stakes in their tight races.
Palin has the highest profile of the potential 2012 Republican candidates but has not campaigned in the two states. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have appeared in both states; Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have stumped in Virginia.
"The governor offered her assistance with both races," Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton said. "The ball is in their court."
McDonnell's campaign offered a conciliatory statement explaining why he did not accept Palin's offer. A spokesperson for Christie's campaign, asked if the former Alaska governor had been invited to stump, flatly said "no." Privately, GOP staffers and strategists in both states worry that Palin could polarize the electorate ahead of the elections and associate McDonnell and Christie with unpopular perceptions of Republican politics.
"A prominent rally with Palin could easily send the independents to the Democratic candidates, and at the same time, she could motivate the Democratic Party base to turn out at a higher rate," University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato told Politico. Sarah Palin Notably Absent From Gubernatorial Races