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Sarah Palin Scores Another Victory With Possible Murkowski Upset

5 years ago
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Had John McCain not chosen Sarah Palin to be his running mate in the 2008 presidential election, Palin would likely have been on Tuesday's ballot in Alaska's primary defending her job as governor of the frontier state.

Instead, Palin has morphed from a political unknown to the biggest kingmaker the GOP ranks, doling out endorsements and enjoying a better-than-even record as she picks winners and losers in her party's primaries.

Palin's most recent victory may be coming in her own state of Alaska, where former federal judge Joe Miller is ahead in the GOP race against Palin nemesis, Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Miller stunned Murkowski Tuesday by finishing four points ahead of her, with several thousand ballots outstanding.
Sarah Palin
The Alaska contest is just the latest in a large number of races where Palin has weighed in, with mixed results. Of the 42 candidates that Palin endorsed in the 2010 midterm elections, 20 have won their primary races, 10 have lost, and an even dozen will know their fates in future primaries or the general election in November.

The candidates are diverse, with 22 women and 20 men coming from inside and outside the political establishment. Palin pick Carly Fiorina had never run for office before in her life, while Sen. Jim DeMint -- another Palin endorsee-- is an established leader in South Carolina running for his second term in the U.S. Senate after several terms in the U.S. House.

Some of Palin's picks were well known before she decided to support them. Former Iowa governor Terry Branstad, for example, did not need a Facebook post from Palin to raise his name i.d. in the state he once governed. But her nod did help him lock up the votes of Tea Party activists who may have been more inclined to pick an outsider in this anti-incumbent year until Palin picked him over other Republicans in the primary.

The same goes for Sen. John McCain, who would have been Palin's boss by now had he won the White House in 2008. McCain spent more than $20 million to beat former congressman J.D. Hayworth in the Arizona primary Tuesday, but the Palin endorsement gave McCain some much-needed bona fides after years of reaching across party lines to work with Democrats on everything from immigration reform to campaign finance restrictions.

Palin's nod had major effects for some lesser-known candidates, who shot to prominence after she chose them among their GOP rivals. Although South Carolina's Nikki Haley was known in South Carolina from her time in the state legislature, she was trailing in the polls in her race for governor until Palin's endorsement lifted her profile outside of the state and helped fill her coffers with the cash that fueled her eventual victory in a GOP runoff.

On Tuesday night, Joe Miller became the most recent Palin-approved candidate to shatter expectations. Although pundits gave Miller virtually no chance to beat Murkowski, the West Point grad and Gulf War veteran surged past the incumbent Tuesday night.

In addition to the Palin endorsement, Miller's strong showing may also have been his pro-life position on abortion issues. Murkowski is one of the few pro-choice Republicans in the Senate and was on the ballot Tuesday along with an abortion-related ballot initiative, the first in the state's history. The measure, which requires doctors to notify the parents of a minor seeking an abortion, was approved 55 percent to 44 percent after more than $1 million of ads flooded the airwaves leading up to Election Day.

More Primaries Coverage:

- Lisa Murkowski Trails Joe Miller in Alaska Senate Race
- Palin Power: A Losing Month for Endorsements, but Up Overall
- Establishment Candidates, Insurgents Both Score in Tuesday's Primaries
- Rick Scott Lags Behind Alex Sink in Florida Governor Race, Paying Price for Divisive Primary
- Rodney Glassman vs. John McCain: A David and Goliath Senate Fight in Arizona
- See all of Politics Daily's 2010 Elections coverage

There's no way to know exactly what lifted Miller from long shot to contender this week, but he gave full credit to Palin's endorsement. "I'm absolutely certain that was pivotal," he told the Anchorage Daily News.

Murkowski agreed that Palin's involvement had an effect, but she wasn't happy about it. "I think she's out for her own self-interest," Murkowski told the newspaper. "I don't think she's out for Alaska's interest."

The winner of the contest will face Sitka mayor Scott McAdams, a Democrat, in November.

Despite the hit of publicity and the possible Tea Party steam, a nod from Palin has not always guaranteed success. Georgia governor hopeful Karen Handel could not beat former congressman Nathan Deal to win the party's nod in a runoff earlier this month even after Palin traveled to Georgia to campaign with her.

More relevant for the November general elections, Palin's strong support for Doug Hoffman in the 2009 special election in New York's 23rd congressional district ran afoul of other Republicans' support for Dede Scozzafava. The split eventually weakened the GOP field and opened the door for Democrat Bill Owens to win the previously Republican House seat.

With so much riding on her endorsements, Time magazine asked her recently how she decides whom to choose.

"Oftentimes I'm looking at the candidate who shares the circumstances in which I've been: underfunded, up against the machine, no big endorsements, running a grassroots campaign with the help of volunteer friends and family," Palin said. "When I see that, and can feel the momentum they can create with their passion in spite of greater challenges than their more comfortable opponents have, then I empathize, I relate, and I want to help."

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Obama thought he was runnning against Sarah Palin during his campaign--I think mainly because he was embarrassed that his only experience was as a community organizer & was only an Ill. state senator for a short time before he began campaigning. Palin was a seasoned Governor & ran the the state of AK. Why the left wingnuts try to destroy her is beyond me. She's not running for any political office--she was forced to resign as Governor because of all the lawsuits that she had to face from the liberals--worrying about how much she spent for clothing or if she took her children with her on a trip, etc. The state of AK had to pay for these court costs--thank goodness she did resign instead of allowing one suit after another. I wonder how these people feel paying for all the trips Michelle takes with her mother & kids--most you never hear about.

September 02 2010 at 2:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Speaking as a Democrat, I say Go Sara! Oh wait, I thought Reagan was a joke in 1980, and he was elected! I guess I`d better be careful what I wish for.

August 25 2010 at 11:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

This is a question to Edward, I would like to know or have it explained to me what is he implying when he makes the statement of taking our Country back? That is a statement which has been used quite frequent since Pres Obama has been in office. I never heard that statement used for any of our other Presidents. would you pls elobrate in a clear fashion who has this country. Thank you Irma

August 25 2010 at 11:17 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply

It's funny that they still are trying to dig up dirt on SP , They hate her with so much passion it's just fun to watch as they search for anything to slam her . She has exposed the far left for what they are Cowards just plain cowards . They send a team of people up to her home state to find dirt on her and come away with nothing but egg on there face . Then they make up stuff to destroy her and that did not work , Then they put Levi Johnson up every chance they get so he could attack her and the family again egg on there face . They get the people from Saturday night live to mock her ( some of the skits were funny ) Guess what that did not work . Oh yea then the has been comic David Letterman goes after her and her daughter ! Did not work either . I mean you have a whole network of media outlets that are making it the sole mission is to destroy her ( MSNBC ) Guess what it did not work . Yet not one story was ever run about the friends of president Obama or anything about his past . All that does is fuel the fires of distrust of this president and the media .

August 25 2010 at 11:08 PM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply

First we had Bush and now we have to put up with Palin. However, it will be Jeb Bush and Cheney's daughter(not the gay one) who will be on the Republican ticket.

August 25 2010 at 9:28 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply

Liberals on the left sure are afraid of Sarah Palin and the Teaparty people too. ( scaredy cats. ) If they didn't think that Sarah and The Tea Party people were gaining voters , then they wouldn't be making sarcastic comments about them. But they are scared and they show it ,and Sarah and the Tea party ar gaining voters.

August 25 2010 at 8:54 PM Report abuse +13 rate up rate down Reply

The democrats are scared to death of Sarah Palin, it's hilarious. I remember when McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his vp candidate two years ago, Obama couldn't speak for four days, when asked what he thought about her, he was practically catatonic. Then everyone on the blogs compared her to Obama, like she was running against him for president. I couldn't stop laughing then, I can't stop laughing now. Two years have gone by, and she's bigger now than she was back then.

August 25 2010 at 8:52 PM Report abuse +13 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jeff's comment

ericcote...that is not true...he was slammed constantly and you know it... he was accused of being a muslim, the anti christ, racist, there was the Larry Sinclair scandal (who proved to me a con artist)but the right kept it up, and how about the birthers? so please don't tell me Obama has had it easy. You righties have tried to tie him to anything that went wrong. You claimed he hung with terrorists. This is what turns me off about the right. You lie! constantly.

August 26 2010 at 12:40 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
AZ Stang

I'm not a big fan everything she does, but most Americans believe in God, want the right to arm themselves for self defense only, and want smaller government with fewer entitlement programs. She doesn't want to take those things away, so she has my support.

August 25 2010 at 8:05 PM Report abuse +13 rate up rate down Reply

You go Girl!

August 25 2010 at 6:27 PM Report abuse +20 rate up rate down Reply

palin endorsing mccain sad

August 25 2010 at 6:03 PM Report abuse -13 rate up rate down Reply

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