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Sarah Palin's Winning Ways: Endorsed Candidates Fare Well on Tuesday

5 years ago
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Sarah Palin batted three for four (with an asterisk) in primary endorsements Tuesday, and though Cecile Bledsoe's loss in Arkansas' 3rd District dropped her 2010 record in congressional matchups to 5-4, she's perfect so far in gubernatorial races.

If Nikki Haley (the asterisk) wins the June 22 runoff in South Carolina's GOP race for governor, that would further validate Palin's endorsement power. The former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate came out for Haley personally in mid-May at a campaign rally, instead of merely tweeting or writing a Facebook note, as she's done for other candidates.

And when two GOP operatives came forward to say they had flings with Haley, Palin stuck with her candidate. Last week, voters received robocalls from Palin urging their support for Haley, whom she'd also defended on Twitter and Facebook.

In two other races, Palin would be wise to help her preferences mend fences with supporters of the more conservative candidates they defeated Tuesday.

In California, Palin endorsed Carly Fiorina early in May and made robocalls on the candidate's behalf in recent days. After winning Tuesday, Fiorina now takes on Sen. Barbara Boxer in what should be an epic battle given Boxer's 28 years in Congress and the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive's deep pockets. Will Fiorina call on Palin for help in the general election? The former governor might be a hit with voters in more conservative parts of the state, but she could be a liability with independents.

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In Iowa, Palin took the easy road, endorsing the frontrunner (and Tuesday's winner), former Gov. Terry Branstad, less than a week before his primary contest. Clearly, she's looking ahead to 2012 and the first caucus state, much as she would surely look for support from Haley in South Carolina's early presidential primary.

But was endorsing Branstad for governor the wise move? It certainly didn't go over with conservative voters in the state -- or Palin's supporters -- who complained that Branstad is too moderate. And Palin should have considered the outcome of Iowa's 2008 caucuses, where her eventual running mate, John McCain, barely competed.

Instead, conservative former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won in Iowa in 2008 -- and he endorsed one of Branstad's opponents, as did Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. Will Iowa conservatives, who turn out heavily for presidential caucuses, forgive and forget by 2012?

And will Branstad return the favor of Palin's endorsement, which even took him by surprise?

Meanwhile, Palin came away unblemished in one race in which she almost -- but didn't -- place a bet. Although she gave a shout-out to former Nevada GOP chairwoman Sue Lowden at a breakfast meeting last month, Palin never actually endorsed her. That proved wise, as Lowden fell hard to Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle, who now faces Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the fall.

There are, of course, those who question the value of Palin's endorsements. She made a poor call in Idaho, where her man got stomped, and in Mississippi, where her last-minute shout-out didn't help. Meanwhile, opponents of Haley and Fiorina questioned whether Palin's robocalls violated state laws.

Was Tuesday a better day at the races for Palin than Saturday? Apparently, though we don't know how much she bet on First Dude, the horse named after husband Todd that finished third in the Belmont Stakes.
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