Sarah Palin hasn't run for office since she resigned as Alaska's governor in 2009. A group of Tea Party activists is hoping to change that, however, by launching a bid to recruit Palin to run against Alaska's Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat who is up for re-election in 2014.
In an email to supporters, Todd Cefaratti of the Tea Party Leadership Fund says the plain-spoken conservative icon is a proven fighter with a "clear path" to victory. "We know that, with Sarah in the Senate, conservatives across America can rest a little easier at night knowing that she’s at the watch," Cefaratti says.
Liberals scoffed at the idea that Palin, whose most recent work experience includes stints on Fox News and reality TV, could win over Alaskan voters. This scheme demonstrates "a level of cluelessness that is surprising even" for Tea Partiers, says Jason Easley at PoliticsUSA.
The main count against Palin is that she resigned halfway through her term in the only job she ever won in a statewide election. Furthermore, Palin doesn't even really live in Alaska any more: A year after running for vice president on Sen. John McCain's 2008 ticket, she told her constituents adios and moved to Arizona. Here's Easley again:
There is also the little fact that Alaskans really don't like Sarah Palin. Palin is so unpopular in Alaska that a February 2013 poll found that she would lose the state to Hillary Clinton by 16 points. Her approval rating in the state is 37 percent. [PoliticsUSA]
Some think a seat in the Senate would amount to a demotion from her current role as kingmaker. Palin "understands the value of her current role in helping elect conservatives to office and is unlikely to limit her voice to being just one of a hundred," says Tom Tillison at BizPac Review.
If Palin's going to make a political comeback, then, why not aim higher? "While many are quick to rule Palin out for a presidential run in 2016," says Tillison, "that is certainly a viable option for the still very popular conservative firebrand. A recent appearance at CPAC 2013, where she stole the show, is proof positive that she can still fire up the base like no other."
The draft-Palin crowd has at least one part of the equation right: Begich could be vulnerable to a challenge in his GOP-friendly state. A February Public Policy Polling survey measured Begich's approval rating at 49 percent, and showed him beating Palin, 54 percent to 37 percent, in a head-to-head matchup. But his approval numbers, according to other polls, have fallen since then to 41 percent, following his vote against expanded federal background checks for gun buyers.
"There are already two well-known Alaska Republicans who are considering challenging the Democrat," says Catalina Camia at USA Today. Both Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and failed 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller — another Tea Party favorite — have formed Senate exploratory committees. So even if Palin doesn't run, Begich can count on facing an energetic GOP challenge.