Senator Sarah Palin? Get used to the notion; it could happen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, is currently the junior senator from the great state of Alaska. On the Alaskan endangered species list, a Democratic senator beats out the humpbacked whale and the short-tailed albatross. Alaskan Republicans will be tripping over themselves to get the nomination and run against Begich in 2014.
The Tea Party’s dream candidate is Sarah Palin. The Tea Party leadership commissioned a poll of Alaskan Republicans and Palin came out on top, albeit narrowly. The former governor and vice presidential nominee is favored by 32 percent, followed by current Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell with 30 percent, and attorney Joe Miller (the candidate the Tea Party favored in a 2010 run against Alaska’s senior GOP senator Lisa Murkowski) has 24 percent. If Palin runs, Miller probably would not, and she could count on the majority of his support making its way into her camp.
There is no question who the national Tea Party wants in this race. A petition to “Draft Sarah Palin” is supported by Tea Party groups across the country and has been emailed to millions of their members with “Do the words Senator Palin excite you?” written in the subject box. Those same people will be counted on to finance Palin’s run, assuring her a hefty campaign treasure chest filled with the kind of national interest that no other race in Alaska has ever attracted.
So she has the poll numbers, the support and the money. The only thing missing from the Sarah Palin campaign is Sarah Palin. The Tea Party leadership admits they haven’t talked with her and don’t even know if she is interested in running. Palin seems to still be enjoying “going rogue,” a term coined when she decided to stop listening to the advisors running the McCain-Palin campaign and do things her own way. Since losing, she has done a reality TV show, and left Fox News as a contributor when her contract was up. She recently turned down an offer to star in her own talk show.
As Palin infamously said when she resigned as governor, “You don’t need a title to make a difference.” She still is a popular and well-paid speaker on the conservative circuit (she was the star at CPAC). She has her own political action committee and has collected political IOU’s by contributing to and influencing congressional and senatorial elections across the country.
Still, Palin does not have the media following her every move, every speech and every Facebook post anymore. In June of 2011, she stole all of the media attention from Mitt Romney’s announcement that he was running for president, by rolling her bus tour into a nearby New Hampshire town. In 2011, she visited the Iowa State Fair, stealing every network camera in the state away from the Republican presidential candidates.
Palin seems to enjoy flexing her media stardom at opportune moments. And that is exactly why she just might run. For if she does, she will dominate the 2014 midterm elections, and her fading star will once again shine. It will be nothing but a headache for the Republican National Committee as Palin will undoubtedly not stick to its talking points.
But if they think she is a headache as a candidate, as a freshman senator she will once again steal all of the media attention from 2016 Republican presidential candidates like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.
Palin thrives in the irony that the media who once seemed hell-bent on destroying her, can’t get enough of her. She thrives in tweaking the noses of the Republican establishment that she feels abandoned her. She thrives in the spotlight; it feeds her power. And the national spotlight of a senate run may be too much for Palin to resist.
So get ready for the release of Sarah Palin 3.0—appearing everywhere in 2014.