Sarah Palin Resigns
So, Sarah Palin will resign as Governor of Alaska at the end of July. To be honest, it wasn’t that big a surprise to me, since I haven’t thought a lot about Governor Palin since November … other than when she appeared in the media because her daughter decided not to get married after all, and then the dustup with David Letterman last month. For whatever reason, Governor Palin became something of a non-story.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I admire Governor Palin for what she has been able to accomplish. Younger than me, with a large family, she rose to the executive branch of Alaska’s government, and then was selected to be John McCain’s running mate. Whether she was the best choice is somewhat moot … they lost, in case you missed that little piece of news. She was chosen, and that’s a significant accomplishment. But the circumstances of her resignation 18 months before the end of her term seems odd.
Lame-duck governors actually can get a lot accomplished. It just depends on what they choose to pursue. A governor, or any politician for that matter, who is not faced with the prospect of re-election has a lot more latitude to compromise, if you don’t think that’s a dirty word. Of course, that depends a lot on what his or her future ambitions might be. And perhaps that’s part of the impetus for Palin to resign at this time. There may be a lot of need to compromise coming down the pike, and if she has ambitions for a run at the White House in 2012, which I think is a long shot, she may have decided that it’s politically more expedient to pull out now rather than to be forced into compromises and risk being called a RINO should she seek the Presidency.
For the record, I hate that term. We’ll talk about that another day.
But think about it. Governor Crist will work now to shore up his conservative credentials as he runs for U.S. Senate. He’s been criticized for supporting President Obama on the federal stimulus, though Jacksonville is reaping some of the benefits of that money right now through some major road construction projects. We’ll need to watch how much Governor Crist swings back to the right for the Senate race, with Speaker Rubio also seeking the seat.
Mayor Peyton, on the other hand, is free to propose a property tax increase because, and I believe he believes this, it’s in the best interest of the city. I’ll have an opportunity to ask him about that on Wednesday on the Jacksonville Observer Radio Show, and I’m looking forward to that. But city council members who wish to seek the Mayor’s office or run for re-election might be reluctant to support that hike.
Still, absent a major scandal, it’s very unusual for a sitting governor to resign the job because they feel like they can accomplish more outside of government. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford HAS a pretty major scandal on his hands, and he’s chosen not to resign, so far. Normally, people who have attained that kind of power and influence tend to try to hang on to it by whatever means necessary. Governor Palin has proven herself to be her own woman, but I would not be surprised if there is something else going on that we don’t yet know about. It is an unorthodox way to kick off a Presidential campaign, jumping off at mid term, if that is in fact her intention. But I think we learned that Sarah Palin just coming out and being Sarah Palin may be problematic for a Presidential run. As McCain’s running mate, she showed flashes of brilliance, but seemed, from my vantage, as not being quite ready for the national stage. She still has more executive experience than President Obama, but again, that’s moot at this point. President Obama is as accomplished a campaigner as President Clinton was, and in a head-to-head contest, particularly if Obama has been even the least bit successful, he’ll be a formidable opponent for whomever the Republicans choose to challenge him.
No matter what, we’re going to just have to wait to see what Governor Palin has in mind following this resignation. Staying on as governor would have been the obvious way to stay in the spotlight and build a record on which to run for the White House. 18 months of governor may not be enough. But Sarah Palin proved to us early on that she’s unconventional, and unpredictable. In that, this move is certainly true to form.