Speculate-A-Palooza! The Palin Move…
At least half of punditry is being first to market, so here’s my bid to make sense of the seemingly non-sensical choice by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to resign this month before finishing her term.
Is she going to be gone? Not hardly, mes amis.
I’m not sure that it’s a great strategy, but I believe that there is a possibility that Palin may be angling for the U.S. Senate seat held by GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski. To understand this GOP in-fighting, you have to look back over the past few years in Alaska politics.
Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski had likely become Alaska’s most despised incumbent governor ever by 2006. It wasn’t always that way. Aside from Ted Stevens, Frank was nearly the gold standard in Alaska politics for a long time. He had been U.S. Senator from 1981 until being elected governor in 2002. Following his inauguration, Murkowski appointed his daughter, Lisa, to fill the remainder of his Senate term.
The biography for Lisa Murkowski on the U.S. Senate site doesn’t mention her father at all. Dick Cheney appears in the swearing in photo, but not Frank Murkowski – a guy that had a lot to do with getting her where she is from any of various angles that you might care to explore. But that little overreach of nepotism by dad proved to be a little more than Alaskans could bear. The enraged electorate passed a ballot measure in 2004 to strip the state’s governor of the authority to make such appointments going forward. Meanwhile, Lisa Murkowski was elected to a full six-year Senate term by only a three percent margin over a Democratic opponent in that very red state. That term is up for re-election in 2010.
Frank Murkowski picked up only 19 percent of the August 2006 GOP primary for governor (not too good — especially for an incumbent.) Sarah Palin got 51 percent in the three-way primary. With the momentum a giant killer – and never mind that in a two-way race, Peewee Herman could have taken Frank out from the back row of a theater by then — Palin went on to win in the November general election with a total of 114,697 votes. (For a comparison, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle polled nearly 10 times that number of votes to capture re-election in November 2006 here in Wisconsin, which is not really a big state.)
So anyway, there probably isn’t much love lost between the Palin and the Murkowski families and their respective political camps. Sarah needs to get to Washington if she has higher ambitions and the path there may well be by running in another GOP primary against a Murkowski because, after all, it worked for her the last time. The national GOP may even be concerned that Lisa Murkowski isn’t their best chance to hold the seat, considering her thin margin the last time. They’re already smarting from losing the Stevens seat due to an ill-timed scandal that allowed the Dems to capture the seat last November.
Of course, there is also the possibility that there is much more to this story than we already know concerning Sarah Palin’s resignation, so we will all have to stay tuned. I could be completely wrong, but what if I’m not and you heard it here first? 🙂