… we would certainly appreciate it if you decided to disappear now. You don’t have what it takes to carry a national ticket. The longer you stay in the spotlight, the more of a wack-job wingnut you prove yourself to be … and while many of us actually like that you keep shooting yourself in the foot, you were elected by the people of your state to do a job for them … so perhaps it’s time you fully got back to work.
JUNEAU, Alaska — Before Tina Fey and “Drill, baby, drill,” there was mud season here in the Alaskan capital. This soggy, socked-in spring has been no exception, but it sure has been different in other ways. For Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican meteor, getting back to governing has not been easy.
As the legislative session draws to an end this weekend, Ms. Palin is pushing no major bills, and neither are state lawmakers. Many pivotal alliances between the governor and minority Democrats are obsolete, undone by mutual bitterness from the election. The rush of oil revenues that helped Ms. Palin press for big-ticket projects in the past has been replaced by a budget deficit that will require taking at least $1 billion out of state savings.
And then there is the pervasive sense among many lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, that a new political reality has overtaken this remote government seat.
“The source of the greatest tension this year between the Legislature and the executive has been certainly the appearance that the executive is prioritizing her national image, her national brand, over the day-to-day operations of state government and the interests of the State of Alaska,” said Mike Hawker, the Republican co-chairman of the House Finance Committee.
Ms. Palin, Senator John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate last fall, remains a Republican star across the country and in Alaska. But her detractors at the Capitol complain that she has been distracted from state business both by continued efforts to position herself nationally and by the tabloid-tilted aspects of her new prominence.
The biggest policy fight has been over how much federal stimulus money the state should accept (the governor initially held a news conference to say she would accept only 55 percent of the $930 million available; she soon signaled her willingness to accept more, though not enough for lawmakers). The State Senate, often her foil, took matters to a new level this year by stripping some of the governor’s priority projects from its proposed budget, including some in support of the natural gas pipeline.
Meanwhile, the governor has opened a political action committee, SarahPAC, and there is no shortage of observers tracking how she navigates these first months after the McCain-Palin campaign. Will she run for re-election in 2010, for president in 2012?
In a meeting with reporters in her office last week, she expressed little distress over lawmakers’ revisions to legislation she favored. She also said she prays for “the revelation of truth” to combat what she says are persistent lies about her and her family.”