“It would all be about Alaska”

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

In the nearly 14 years since she burst onto the national political scene, the former Alaska governor has appeared on reality television shows, written books, spent time as a staffer at Fox News, founded a political action committee on her behalf, and was rumored to be a White House contender. More recently, she has revived her status as a conservative sensation with an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit against The New York Times.

Now the first Republican vice presidential nominee is vying for a less glamorous role: a member of the US House of Representatives.

Palin is among 48 candidates running for Alaska’s lone seat in the House of Representatives following the death last month of Republican Rep. Don Young, who held the job for 49 years. If successful, Palin would be one of 435 members in a chamber where ambition runs deep but legislation is difficult, not least because of the populist policies that have prevailed since the 2008 election.

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Given this dynamic, it would be easy to dismiss Palin’s candidacy as the latest headline-grabbing twist in an unconventional career. Some of her critics have tried to portray her as an opportunist trying to bolster her brand. The opinion section of Alaska’s largest newspaper’s website is littered with letters to the editor urging Alaskans to oppose their campaign. Some remind readers that she left her last major job in politics, as Governor of Alaska, with about 16 months remaining in office.

But in a recent interview with The Associated Press, Palin, 58, dismissed such criticism. She insisted her commitment to Alaska hasn’t wavered and those who suggest otherwise “don’t know me.” She said she was serious about running for the House seat and didn’t need “a launch pad for anything else.”

Indeed, she said, her unique place in American politics would put her in a stronger position in Washington. Unlike other freshman lawmakers, she said, she could “pick up the phone and call any reporter and be on any show if I wanted to, and it would all be about Alaska.”

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“I love working, and everyone who’s around knows it,” she said. do you want to hire me Because if you do, I’ll do a good job for you and I won’t back down.'”

There is only one former governor who is currently a member of the House of Representatives – Democrat Charlie Crist of Florida. Palin faces several hurdles to get there.

One navigates through elections that will unfold in rapid succession. A special area code on June 11 will be the country’s first mail-in ballot. The four candidates receiving the most votes will advance to a special election on August 16 where the order of precedence will be chosen. The winner will serve out the remainder of Young’s term, which expires in January.

There will also be a primary in August and a general election in November to determine who will serve a two-year term beginning in January. Palin is one of 16 candidates so far who have signed up for regular elementary school.

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Some voters are questioning Palin’s decision to leave the governor’s office, a move she attributes to an onslaught of filing inquiries and ethics complaints that she says have become reckless and distractions.

She has spent time out of state but maintains a home in Wasilla, her hometown and where she began her career in politics.

“Well, I’m sorry if that narrative is out there because it’s inaccurate,” she said of the perception she left Alaska behind. She said Alaska is her home and she recently “shoveled moose shit” in her father’s backyard on a sunny day before calling a reporter.

According to the Elections Department, she has regularly voted in state elections since leaving office.

“I’m still all about Carhartts and steel-toed boots and just hard work,” Palin said, referring to a popular outerwear brand. “I’ve just been blessed with opportunities and a platform to get out there and tell and show other people how beautiful it is to be an Alaskan.”

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She mentions the hunting habits of Alaskans and the importance of responsible development of the state’s oil and gas resources. She said she plans to attend events, including this week’s Republican Party convention.

Competition in republican Alaska is unlikely to alter the balance of power in Washington. But the election is being closely watched as a barometer of former President Donald Trump’s connection to the GOP’s most loyal voters.

In Wasilla, Trump 2020 or Trump 2024 banners wave from several houses, the few political signs seen so far this election year. Palin said that if Trump runs for president in 2024 and asks her to be his running mate, she would consider it, although she said he could vote for anyone and they hadn’t had such an open conversation.

Palin said Trump was among those who contacted her after Young’s death and asked if she would be willing to run. 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, as her four older children have grown. Her youngest, Trig, is in middle school. Palin was divorced from Todd Palin, her husband of 30 years, in 2020.

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Palin said she felt she had “nothing to lose” while running. After her political and personal life was blinded by the media for so long, “what else can you say?” she said, later adding, “For me, it’s freedom.”

Trump has backed Palin and made the state’s senior US Senator Lisa Murkowski one of his top targets this year after she criticized him and voted to sentence him during his second impeachment trial.

Even if Palin doesn’t win the election, she could emerge as a strong critic of Murkowski, who will face voters later this year. Palin said she disagreed with Murkowski on some of her positions, including her vote to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial. But on issues like resource development in Alaska, Palin said she believes they’re “on the same sheet of music.”

Palin has perhaps the highest profile among a list of candidates that includes current and former state legislators, a North Pole city councilman whose legal name is Santa Claus, and Republican Nick Begich, who ran last fall and has been for months works to rally conservative support.

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Begich said he sees the Matanuska-Susitna region, a conservative hotbed that includes Wasilla, as one of his strongest areas. He said he wasn’t aware any of his followers had defected since Palin joined the race.

“Everyone who has come to support me continues to support me wholeheartedly and that’s a strong statement because a lot has changed,” he said.

Tim Burney, who lives in Wasilla, said he supports Palin. He said she resigned “for the good of the state” after her critics “came down on her with guns blazing”.

“She lives just down the road from here and she grew up here,” he said while smoking a cigarette outside the Mug-Shot Saloon after recently finishing his lunch.

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

Joe Miller, a former Republican turned Libertarian whom Palin supported in two of his unsuccessful Senate elections, said Palin was no ordinary freshman in the House of Representatives and had an “extraordinary” platform she could use to help Alaska. He said she was the “only anti-establishment, truly conservative” candidate in the race and could be the “natural source” of voter anxiety over economic and other issues.

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Holly Houghton, who works as a pharmacy technician, is willing to listen to Palin. Houghton, who recently had a takeaway lunch with her son outside a restaurant in Wasilla, said she had mixed feelings about Palin and was also considering Begich.

Houghton said she doesn’t like the way Palin has been acting in her personal life, but also thought she was an “excellent” governor.

Houghton said she viewed the Begich family as Democrats and wanted to take a closer look at Begich. Begich’s grandfather, Democrat Nick Begich, held the House seat before Young. His Uncle Mark was a Democratic US Senator and his Uncle Tom is the Democratic Senate Chairman.

Jesse Sumner, a member of the Matanuska-Susitna community assembly, said he thinks Begich is a good candidate. Sumner jokingly ran for the House seat at the April Fool’s Day filing deadline. He later retired.

He said he doesn’t see Palin around town very often and that Palin’s run is “more about the Sarah Palin Show than Alaska.”

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Bohrer reported from Juneau, Alaska.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/04/20/palin-on-serving-in-congress-it-would-be-all-about-alaska/ “It would all be about Alaska”

Jaclyn Diaz

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