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Sarah Palin: Serving in Congress ‘will be all about Alaska’

WASILLA, ALASKA – Sarah Palin is not used to sharing the limelight.

In the nearly 14 years since she entered national politics, the former Alaska governor has appeared on reality TV shows, wrote books, spent time as a Fox News contributor, founded a political action committee on her behalf and a rumored White House. competitor. She recently revived her status as a conservative sensation with an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit against The New York Times.

Now, the first female Republican vice-presidential candidate is vying for a role that might be seen as less attractive: a member of the United States House of Representatives.

Palin is among the only 48 candidates running for the House seat in Alaska following the death of Republican Representative Don Young, who held the post for 49 years, last month. If successful, Palin will be one of 435 members in a chamber whose ambitions run deep but legislates with difficulty, in no small part due to the populist politics that took hold after the 2008 elections.

With those dynamics in mind, it might be easy to dismiss Palin’s candidacy as the latest headline change in a unique career. Some of her critics have sought to see her as an opportunist seeking to strengthen her brand. The comments section of the website of Alaska’s largest newspaper is littered with letters to the editor urging Alaska to reject her candidacy. Some remind readers that she left the last significant job she had in politics, as governor of Alaska, with about 16 months remaining in her term.

But in a recent interview with the Associated Press, Palin, 58, dismissed such criticisms. She insists her commitment to Alaska has not wavered and that other proponents “don’t know me.” She said she was serious about finding a seat in the House of Commons and didn’t need “a launch pad for anything else.”

In fact, she said, her unique position in American politics would give her a stronger footing in Washington. Unlike other freshman legislators, she said, she could “pick up the phone and call any reporter and be on any show if I wanted to, and all will be about Alaska.”

“I love to work and whoever is around me, they know,” she said. Do you want to hire me? Because if you do, I’ll do great for you, and I won’t back down. ‘”

Only one former governor is currently a member of the House – Florida Democrat Charlie Crist. Palin faces several obstacles to get there.

One is to navigate the elections that will happen in quick order. A special primary election on June 11 will be the first statewide election by mail. The four candidates receiving the most votes will advance to a special election on August 16, in which ranked-choice voting will be used. The winner will serve the remainder of Young’s term, which expires in January.

There will also be a general election in August and November to determine who will serve a two-year term starting in January. Palin is one of 16 candidates so far who have applied for the regular primaries.

Some voters questioned Palin’s decision to leave the governor’s office, a move she attributed to an onslaught of records requests and ethics complaints that she deemed frivolous and had become a distraction.

She spent time living out of state but maintained a home in Wasilla, her hometown and where she became involved in politics.

“Well, I apologize if that story is inaccurate because it is incorrect,” she said of the perception she left behind in Alaska. She said Alaska is her home and she “shoveled elk manure” in her father’s yard on a recent sunny day before calling a reporter.

She has regularly voted in state elections since leaving office, according to the Department of Elections.

“I still just love Carhartts and steel boots and just work hard,” said Palin, referring to a popular outerwear brand. “I am just blessed with the opportunities and a platform to step out there and tell and show others the beauty of being an Alaskan.”

She addresses the Alaskan hunting lifestyle and the importance of responsible development of the state’s oil and gas resources. She said she plans to attend events, including the state Republican convention this week.

The Republican election in Alaska will not change the balance of power in Washington. But the election is being watched closely as a gauge of former President Donald Trump’s connections to the GOP’s most loyal voters.

In Wasilla, Trump 2020 or Trump 2024 banners flew from several homes, some of the political signs seen so far this election year. Palin said if Trump ran for president in 2024 and asked her to be his running mate, she would consider it, although she said he could pick anyone and They haven’t had such a frank conversation yet.

Palin said Trump was among those who contacted her after Young’s death and asked if she was open to running for office. She said this is a good time in her life to seek a return to office, politically and personally. Her family life has changed, she noted, with her four older children grown. Her youngest child, Trig, is in middle school. Palin divorced Todd Palin, her husband of 30 years, in 2020.

Palin said she feels she has “nothing to lose” as she runs. After letting her personal and political life be exposed for so long in the media, “what else can they say?” she said, then added: “For me, that’s freedom.”

Trump has endorsed Palin and has made the state’s senior US senator, Lisa Murkowski, one of his top targets this year after she criticized him and voted to convict him in impeachment trial. second offense.

Even if Palin doesn’t win the election, she could become a high-powered critic of Murkowski, who faces voters later this year. Palin said she disagreed with Murkowski on some of her positions, including her vote to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial. But on issues like resource development in Alaska, Palin says she believes they will be “on the same track.”

Palin is perhaps the highest profiler on a list of candidates that includes current and former state legislators, Arctic city council members legally named Santa Claus, and Republicans. draw Nick Begich, who entered the race last fall and has worked for months to bolster conservative support.

Begich said he considers the Matanuska-Susitna area, a conservative site that includes Wasilla, as one of his strongest areas. He said he is unaware of any of his supporters defecting since Palin entered the race.

“Everyone who has come to support me is still completely supportive, and that’s a powerful statement because a lot has changed,” he said.

Tim Burney, who lives in Wasilla, said he supports Palin. He said she resigned “in the interest of the state” after her detractors “shot at her with guns.”

“She just lived right down the street here, and you know, she grew up here,” he said as he smoked outside the Mug-Shot Saloon after finishing lunch one recent day.

“Her heart is here in Alaska, and I think she’s good for Alaska,” he said.

Joe Miller, a former Republican and now Liberal who was endorsed by Palin in his two unsuccessful Senate races, said Palin would not be a freshman in the House. hospital and will have an “extraordinary” foundation that she can use to help Alaska. He said she was the only “anti-establishment, truly conservative” candidate in the race and that she could be a “natural repository” for voters’ anger over economic issues. economy and other issues.

Holly Houghton, a pharmaceutical technologist, is willing to listen to Palin. Houghton, who was eating a takeout lunch with her son outside a restaurant in Wasilla recently, said she has mixed feelings about Palin and is also considering Begich.

Houghton said she doesn’t like the way Palin is handling her personal life but also thinks she’s an “outstanding” governor.

Houghton said she views the Begich family as Democrats and wants to take a closer look at Begich. Begich’s grandfather, Democrat Nick Begich, held the House seat ahead of Young. His uncle Mark is a US Democratic senator and his uncle Tom is the Democratic leader of the state Senate.

Jesse Sumner, a member of the Matanuska-Susitna Regional Council, said he thinks Begich is a good candidate. Sumner applied to run for the House seat as a joke around the April Fool’s Day filing deadline. Then he withdrew.

He says he doesn’t see Palin around town much, and that Palin’s run seems “more like about Sarah Palin’s show than it is about Alaska.”

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Bohrer reports from Juneau, Alaska.

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