Maybe the Todd Palin announcement didn't have quite enough oomph, because now the full-fledged Sarah Palin endorsement has come. Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Joe Miller will be challenging the GOP behemoth Lisa Murkowski in the primary with the support of both Palins.
The saga of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) is an interesting one. When her father Frank Murkowski (R) left the Senate seat he'd occupied in D.C. since 1981 to relocate to the governor's mansion in Alaska in 2002, everyone suddenly realized they didn't like him - not one little bit. When he was off in D.C. nobody really paid much attention, but when he got home everyone suddenly realized how deep in the pocket of the oil industry he was, and how shallow his ethics were. Hence, he was run out on a rail pulling in only 19% of the vote as an incumbent Republican, losing the governorship in 2006 to some upstart mavericky Wasilla mayor who fulfilled everything we were looking for in a governor - she was not Frank Murkowski.
Other than corruption, "Frank the Bank" left another legacy - his daughter Lisa. Far more moderate than dear ol' dad in many ways, Lisa was appointed to the empty seat in the U.S. Senate. Frank went through a little dog and pony show where he interviewed a bunch of people for the seat, including that Wasilla mayor I mentioned before. But he knew all along that he'd keep things all in the family. The throne and crown went to daughter Lisa.
Well, Alaskans were furious. We stomped around and pulled our hair and shoted, "NEPOTISM!" We were outraged to the depth of our being. And we put an initiative on the ballot proclaiming that no senator should ever be allowed to appoint someone to their seat. (You can thank Democratic candidate for congress Harry Crawford, and his fellow lawmaker at the time Eric Croft for that.) We agreed that the people should decide in a special election who gets to be our Senator, because no way would we ever have elected Lisa Murkowski.
So, when Lisa was up for reelection, Alaskans voted resoundingly to require a special election. And on the very same ballot we elected Lisa Murkowski to serve her first full term in the Senate. Don't ask me why, because I still haven't figured that one out.
Once Sarah Palin was elected governor in 2006, we had Palin the "Murkowski slayer" in the governor's office, and the daughter of the slain in the U.S. Senate seat. As you can imagine, tensions ran high. Rumors ran wild that Palin would challenge Murkowski for her Senate seat as a stepping stone to a bid for the White House, knocking yet another Murkowski off the pedestal and into political obscurity - another notch on the lipstick case. We were assured that wouldn't happen. Palin even pried open the purse that she usually keeps sealed tightly with duct tape to make her very first PAC donation to Lisa Murkowski, just to prove her point.
But now that Palin apparently thinks she needs no stepping stone, and may actually try to use her half-term as governor as all the experience necessary to run the country, and now that Murkowski has a primary challenger in her race for Senate, things have changed. A few weeks ago Todd Palin endorsed uber-conservative Joe Miller. And today, his wife has followed, announcing her endorsement on her Facebook page.
Joe is a man of true integrity. He will never be bought off; he knows what a solemn trust it is to be given the responsibility of spending other people's money prudently and wisely.
Joe also more closely shares so many of Alaskans' values. He believes the greatness of our country is grounded in the founding principles of limited constitutional government and individual freedom.
Joe believes that we must repeal the new Obamacare health care mandate and seek true market-based reform to allow competition, control costs, increase access, and give Americans more freedom in health care; Lisa opposes repealing the law.
Joe is unashamedly and unequivocally pro-life; Lisa is not and has voted to use taxpayer funds to support abortions and embryonic stem cell research.
Joe is against granting amnesty to illegal immigrants; Lisa has voted for it.
Joe is against cap and trade (Obama's new job-killing energy scheme that I call cap and tax); Lisa believes Al Gore's insistence that man-made global warming is fact, so she's on record as being open to cap and trade legislation to address weather changes.
These are just some of the major differences between these two candidates. I believe Joe is the better choice for Alaskans.
That was my emphasis in the last sentence.
But don't worry, Lisa. Sarah has no ill will. She wishes you well... really. Let her give you a big mama-grizzly hug.
Though the media has tried to portray some sort of feud or bad blood between Lisa and myself, such is not the case. I've always wished her well, but it is my firm belief that we need a bold reformer who is not afraid to stand up to special interests and take on the tough challenges of our time.
So, let's recap the "major differences" as Palin describes them above. According to her take:
Lisa has no integrity. She will be bought off. She doesn't know what trust is. She can't be trusted with your money. She doesn't believe in the founding principles of our country. She opposes repealing the health care bill. She is pro-choice. She believes in stem cell research. She wants amnesty for illegal immigrants. She's pro cap & trade. She believes that humans have caused climate change.
Now, I'm not saying I disagree with that, mind you. I might add a few things like being in the pocket of big oil, selling out for power, trying to say she supports victims of the Gulf oil spill while actually preventing legislation that would help them, putting corporations before people, talking out both sides of her mouth, throwing the environment under the bus, and accepting the job in the first place.... but basically I think Palin's take is not entirely out of line - a social moderate in the pocket of corporations, seduced by power, selling out the people of Alaska and the nation, and not a Teabagger. Yup.
But here's the thing. Palin and Palin are actually endorsing a guy that will be way easier to beat in the general election than Murkowski would be. Her approval ratings are somewhere up in the 70s at last count. That's because basically Alaskans are pretty middle-of-the-road. You wouldn't know it to hear all the squeaking wheels over there on the right-wing fringe, but it's true. People haven't really figured out that Murkowski's recent rise to power-broker of the GOP has changed her focus, her priorities, and her mission. She's no longer the woman she was but people haven't quite picked up on that yet. They've already made up their minds, so don't confuse them with new information. This endorsement will no doubt have Alaskans of all stripes re-examining Murkowski.
Alaskans may be conservative leaning, but it's less than you may think. The majority of Alaskans are neither Republicans nor Democrats. We've had a recent two-term Democratic governor, Tony Knowles. We have a Democratic Senator, Mark Begich. We have a very close balance in the state house and the state senate. Even the Anchorage Assembly runs right down the middle. Barack Obama was within 4 points of John McCain before Palin was nominated, and had 30 full-time campaign workers in the state. There are conservative areas and progressive areas in Alaska, but we are far more purple than people realize.
So if Palin's diabolical plan works, and the extreme conservatives are called out to vote in the primary (as they often are), and put Miller on the ticket in November, Alaskans will be faced with the choice between Tea Party guy, and Sitka mayor Scott McAdams who declared yesterday, and is bright, thoughtful, capable, hard-working, ethical, popular, and.... wait for it.... a Democrat.
Here's a little nugget from Joe Miller's front page:
Are we going to keep faith with the Founders and defend our Constitutional Republic? Or will we continue our head-long plunge into socialism and more government control?
Two Democratic Senators from Alaska? This race just got a whole lot more interesting.