GOP hard-liners already plan to invite her to join their congressional caucus. And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday he’s a “big fan” of hers.
But some Republicans in Alaska are scoffing.
“We’ve got 50 names that Alaskans will have the opportunity to choose from,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the state’s senior senator, who has long had a frosty relationship with Palin, told CNN in Washington. “A lot of really good qualified individuals that nobody else is talking about back here. Back home, they are. So this is your own kind of bubble. I’m just telling you: You are not in Alaska’s bubble, because Alaskans are talking about the others.”
“That is a really hard question,” Murkowski said. “Because it’s been years.”
Palin’s decision to jump into the race to replace the late Don Young — who represented the state for nearly 50 years — adds a nationally prominent candidate to a nearly 50-person field. And it reopens old wounds with some Republican critics, who were eager to see the mercurial politician stay away for good after she abruptly resigned as Alaska’s governor in 2009.
Some of her opponents are trying to capitalize on the rift she left behind.
“Many of the people that I know were very surprised because we didn’t realize that she was still a resident of the state,” said Nick Begich III, a Republican rival for the seat and grandson of the late Rep. Nick Begich and nephew of former Democratic Sen. Mark Begich. “Most people haven’t seen her around. I’ve been to hundreds of events over the last several years and have seen her maybe once. And that’s been true of nearly everyone I’ve talked to.”
Palin still has a home in Wasilla, Alaska — the small town where she was first elected to the city council 30 years ago before serving as mayor. She then defeated Murkowski’s father, Frank, in the 2006 governor’s race. After catapulting onto the national stage as GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s 2008 running mate, she resigned from office three years into her four-year term.
In announcing her resignation, Palin compared herself to a point guard who would selflessly “pass the ball for victory,” and save the state taxpayer money by leaving office early, as a number of ethics complaints were filed against her.”Many just accept that lame-duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck and milk it. I’m not putting Alaska through that — I promised efficiencies and effectiveness,” she said at the time.
A Palin campaign adviser touted the former vice presidential candidate’s long ties to the state.
“Sarah Palin would be honored to serve the men and women of Alaska in Washington and continue the legacy of Don Young,” the adviser said. “She’s a lifelong Alaskan since the age of three months old whose youngest son is still a middle schooler in Wasilla.”
But Palin’s Alaska Republican critics say that she hasn’t been involved in the state’s politics for years, as she spent some of…