POLITICS

Next act for Palin unclear after Alaska House loss – KGET 17

JUNEAU, Ala. (AP) – Republican Sarah Palin has re-emerged in Alaska politics more than a decade after resigning as governor in hopes of winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She had a lot going for her: unmatched name recognition, former President Donald Trump’s support in a state he carried twice, an unmatched ability to command national media attention.

But she struggled to catch fire with voters, some of whom were turned off by her resignation in 2009, and ran what critics saw as a weak campaign against a Republican backed by state party leaders and a failed Democrat who presented as ordinary Alaska and ran on the platform of “fish, family and freedom”.

Palin lost two races for Republican Don Young’s House seat that was held 49 years before his death in March — in a special vote in August to determine who will serve out the remainder of his term and in the Nov. 8 general election for a full two-year term. mandate. The results of the November 8 election were announced on Wednesday. Both ranked-choice votes were won by Democrat Mary Peltola, who is Yup’ik and became the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress with her victory in the special election.

Peltola, a former state lawmaker, dodged a barrage of sniping between Palin and Republican Nick Begich, who branded the former governor a defector and self-promoter. Palin suggested that Begich, who entered the race last fall months before Palin and comes from a family of prominent Democrats, was a “plant” who was siphoning votes from her. The two, however, encouraged a “red ranking” strategy ahead of this month’s election in hopes of retaking the seat for the GOP. The general election also included one Libertarian who was far behind.

Jim Lottsfeldt, a political consultant associated with a super PAC that supported Peltola, said the election looked to many like an “easy pass” for Republicans.

Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, could have “run away” with them, but she didn’t seem focused, he said. He cited Palin’s trips outside Alaska, including one to New York days before the general election, and “stupid” events at home, including one organized by a sparsely attended political action committee that featured James Brown, as missteps. .

With the losses, Lottsfeldt said, the former conservative sensation is becoming “kind of old news.”

Republican strategist Brad Todd said Palin “had a lot of the characteristics that President Trump had before President Trump came. And now there are plenty of President Trump impersonators.” He said that poses a challenge for someone like Palin, who has “a lot more company in her lane than she did 12, 14 years ago.”

“One challenge, and President Trump will have this challenge, is if you want to be like a mercenary sent to fight the big battles, you have to win,” Todd said.

But he said “anti-elite vernacular” is common in the Republican Party for Palin, and two election losses won’t “stop her from being a very powerful surrogate for some people if she wants to.”

Palin has pledged support since the election for efforts aimed at repealing the system approved by Alaska voters in 2020, which replaced party primaries with open primaries and introduced ranked-choice voting in the general election. This year’s election was the first to be held under the system, which Palin began to rail against before the first votes were cast.

Art Mathias, the leader of the repeal effort, said Palin has a “massive audience” and will be “invaluable” in efforts to advance it.

Palin told reporters on Election Day that she wasn’t sure what she would be doing in two years if she lost, but said “my heart is in the service of Alaska.” She also said she wanted to talk to members of Congress about what she could do, even outside of elected office, “to make sure the American people can trust what’s going on in government.”

The comments were similar to those she made in 2009 when she resigned as governor. Palin attributed her decision to step down to public records requests and ethics complaints that she said had become distractions.

Palin, the former mayor of her hometown of Wasilla, made a splash in conservative politics after bursting onto the national scene in 2008 with her folksy demeanor and snappy lyrics. She wrote books, entered the speaking circuit, appeared on reality television shows, spent time as a Fox News contributor and formed a political action committee that has since disbanded.

Although she has largely stayed out of Alaska politics since leaving the governor’s office, Palin was an early supporter of Trump’s 2016 candidacy and made headlines this year with an unsuccessful lawsuit against the New York Times.

In a June interview, she brushed off critics’ suggestions that she had left Alaska, saying she lives in the state, has raised her children here and is “so Alaskan” that she recently hit a moose while driving.

Palin makes videos through Cameo, a site where people can pay for personalized messages from celebrities. Hers are advertised for $199.

Palin revived her 2008 mantra, “Drill, baby, drill,” during the House race calling for more oil production, and while she and Peltola were friendly, Palin argued that the ranked-choice voting system “has produced a travesty sending Democrats to Congress to represent Alaska, one of the reddest states in the country.”

Andrew Halcro, a former Republican state lawmaker who ran for governor against Palin and was among 48 candidates in a special House primary in June, said he didn’t think Palin “really understood and recognized the high percentage of voters who just don’t understand like she does. Palin did not take steps to win them over or attract Begich supporters, he added.

Begich was the second candidate eliminated in the general election after the Libertarian. When Begich’s 64,392 votes were tabulated in the ranked-choice voting tabulation process, just over 43,000 went to Palin, but about 21,500 of his voters did not choose another choice or cast their ballots for Peltoli, who beat Palin with 55% of the vote.

But Halcro said he doesn’t see Palin disappearing from the stage.

“My question is, when have people like Palin or Trump ever left after losing? … They just stepped up their rhetoric,” he said.

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