Sarah Palin announces she is running for Congress in Alaska
Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican running mate in 2008, said Friday she was entering the race for Alaska’s only congressional seat, marking her return to national politics after helping to rekindle the anti-establishment rhetoric that has come to define the Republican Party.
She will join a packed field of nearly 40 candidates to fill the House seat vacated by Rep. Don Young, whose unexpected death last month sparked one of the biggest political shifts in the state in 50 years.
Ms Palin said in a statement that she planned to honor Mr Young’s legacy, while painting a dystopian picture of a nation in crisis and criticizing the ‘radical left’, high petrol prices , inflation and illegal immigration.
“America is at a tipping point,” she said in the statement. “As I watched the far left destroy the country, I knew I had to step in and join the fight.”
Ms Palin has suggested launching various election campaigns several times over the years since August 2008, when Senator John McCain brought her out of obscurity and named her as his running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.
But after a long hiatus from politics, Ms Palin had hinted in recent weeks that she was more serious than she had been in the past about running for office again. During a recent appearance on Fox News with Sean Hannity, Ms Palin said: “There is a time and a season for everything.”
And she cited former President Donald J. Trump as inspiration. The two had shared a scene in 2016 when she endorsed him for president. “We need people like Donald Trump, who has nothing to lose. Like me,” she said.
Speaking to conservative cable network Newsmax, she did not rule out running for Mr. Young’s seat last week, saying she would consider it an honor. “If I were asked to serve in the House and take his place, I would be humbled and honored,” Ms. Palin told the network. “In a heartbeat, I would.”
In her statement Friday, Palin highlighted her legacy of service in Alaska, where she was first elected to the Wasilla City Council three decades ago. She said she still lived in Wasilla and said her loyalty would remain with the state even if she was sent to Washington.
Echoing the red meat politics that energized Republican voters, she said the nation needed leaders who would “fight the socialist agenda of the left, big government and America last.”
Her decision to enter the race came as she received national attention for suing The New York Times for defamation.
Ms Palin claimed the Times defamed her when it published a 2017 op-ed wrongly linking her political rhetoric to a mass shooting. A jury dismissed the lawsuit, a day after the federal judge in the case indicated he would dismiss the claims if the jury found in his favor because his legal team failed to meet high legal standards for public figures who claim defamation. The Times, which acknowledged and corrected the error in question shortly after it was published, has not lost a defamation case in US court for at least 50 years.
Mr. Young, 88, who was the longest serving Republican in Congress and was first elected in 1973, died on March 18. The rush among potential candidates to fill his unexpired term began almost immediately. Friday was the deadline for filing official documents, and the Alaska Division of Elections had received submissions from 37 candidates by Friday afternoon.
A special election will be held on June 11. The top four candidates with the most votes will advance to the special general election on August 16. The state will for the first time use a unique “first four” system. The regular open primary for Mr Young’s seat and the special general election are being held on the same day, a potentially confusing decision.
Ms Palin will face off against a host of far-right and establishment Republican rivals, including Nick Begich III, the Republican scion of Alaskan political royalty; State Senator Joshua Revak, an Iraq War veteran who previously worked for Mr. Young; and Tara Sweeney, who served in the Trump administration as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs.
“She certainly has a constituency,” Art Hackney, a consultant for Mr Revak’s campaign, said of Ms Palin, adding that “anyone who wants to file” will have to “bring her in” to defeat Mr Revak.
Ms Palin will also have formidable progressive challengers, including Al Gross, a former orthopedic surgeon who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2020 and is running as an independent, and Christopher Constant, an openly gay Democrat who is a member of the Assembly of Anchorage.
Ms Palin, who became one of only three women to run on a major party’s presidential ticket, had refused to run for president in 2012 when several of the activists who would help Mr Trump get elected tried to convince her to run against former President Barack Obama.
Lately, she returned to Fox News, which once employed her as a contributor for $1 million a year, laying the groundwork for her campaign.