Alaska Governor Sarah “Barracuda” Palin

There’s been a lot of talk about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin over the last several weeks as people are weighing in on who they think McCain should pick as his VP running mate.  While I think she is short on experience at this stage in her political career, I believe she has a bright future in politics, and perhaps we may one day see her on the national stage. 

Last July, while the primary campaign season was just warming up and way before any talk of VP selections, the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes wrote a good piece on who Palin is, where she comes from, and some of the things she’s done over her short career in politics.  It’s a good starting point for anyone truly interested in learning more about her.  Here’s a little bit of what Barnes wrote:

Her rise is a great (and rare) story of how adherence to principle–especially to transparency and accountability in government–can produce political success. And by the way, Palin is a conservative who only last month vetoed 13 percent of the state’s proposed budget for capital projects. The cuts, the Anchorage Daily News said, “may be the biggest single-year line-item veto total in state history.”

As recently as last year, Palin (pronounced pale-in) was a political outcast. She resigned in January 2004 as head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after complaining to the office of Governor Frank Murkowski and to state Attorney General Gregg Renkes about ethical violations by another commissioner, Randy Ruedrich, who was also Republican state chairman.

State law barred Palin from speaking out publicly about ethical violations and corruption. But she was vindicated later in 2004 when Ruedrich, who’d been reconfirmed as state chairman, agreed to pay a $12,000 fine for breaking state ethics laws. She became a hero in the eyes of the public and the press, and the bane of Republican leaders.


Her first major achievement as governor was lopsided passage by the legislature of the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, which is designed to attract pipeline proposals this summer. The state is offering $500 million in incentives, but the developer must meet strict requirements. The oil companies have said they won’t join the competition.

Palin’s tough spending cuts drew criticism from Republican legislators whose pet projects were vetoed. But her popularity doesn’t appear threatened. “It’s not just that she’s pretty and young,” says Dittman. “She’s really smart. And there’s no guile. She says her favorite meal is moose stew or mooseburgers. It wouldn’t shock people if that were true.”

Things clearly look bleak for the GOP now but Palin, along with LA Gov. Jindal and former MD Lt Gov. Michael Steele are examples of the fresh faces the GOP desperately needs in the near future as it tries to get back on its feet, not only to re-invigorate frustrated conservatives as well as bring new ones into the fold, but also to try to win back the trust of those middle of the road voters on both sides of the aisle who have lost faith in the GOP’s ability to govern effectively.

Oh, and as to where I got “Barracuda” from:

Gov. Palin grew up in Wasilla, where as star of her high school basketball team she got the nickname “Sarah Barracuda” for her fierce competitiveness. She led her underdog team to the state basketball championship. Palin also won the Miss Wasilla beauty contest, in which she was named Miss Congeniality, and went on to compete in the Miss Alaska pageant.

Make sure to read the whole thing.

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