In 2008, Sarah Palin–then the governor of Alaska–ran for vice president on Senator John McCain’s presidential ticket. The pair ultimately wound up losing to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. But Palin was a huge boost to McCain’s campaign, especially among white women. Since that presidential campaign, Palin has focused on writing books, going on book tours, speaking on television as a political pundit, and even filming a reality TV show. But on April 1, 2022, she announced a return to the political life. She will be running for Congress. Here, Election Central takes a closer look at her comeback campaign.
Alaska’s only representative, Don Young, passed away on March 18, 2022, after serving in Congress for 49 years. Palin filed to run for his open seat, one hour before the April 1st deadline. So far, fifty-one candidates have announced a campaign for Young’s seat. Alaska will hold a special election beginning on June 11, 2022. This election will be the first to use the state’s new voting system, in which all fifty-one candidates will appear on the same ballot at the same time, with the top four vote-getters advancing to the general election in August.
Sarah Palin first entered politics thirty years ago by winning a seat on her local city council in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. She later became the town’s mayor. Palin was elected governor of Alaska in 2006–the first female and the youngest person ever to do so in that state. In 2008, presidential candidate Senator John McCain tapped her to be his running mate. While Democrats zeroed in on her lack of experience, Palin described herself as something other than a “typical” Washington politician, and this image resonated with many voters.
Her political career stalled after losing the 2008 election. In 2009, she resigned as governor with eighteen months remaining in her term. She didn’t hold public office again after that, choosing instead to become a political contributor to conservative news outlets. Recently, she lost a lawsuit she brought against the New York Times, in which she claimed that a 2017 editorial had unfairly defamed her.
Palin’s Congressional platform focuses on traditional conservative values of fiscal responsibility and small government, along with transportation, education, and public services development. Palin has already received the endorsement of former president Donald Trump. However, a poll from last October showed her approval rating at just 31 percent. Her advantages in the race include powerful name recognition, which will mean large campaign donations and free media coverage. But she has not held political office in over a decade, and in majority-independent Alaska, a Trump endorsement might do more harm than good: in a recent poll, 43 percent of Alaskans said they had a negative impression of the former president.