Palin announces resignation
By JONATHAN MARTIN | 7/3/09 5:13 PM EDT
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced Friday that she was resigning her office later this month, a stunning decision that could free her to run for president more easily but also raises questions about her political standing at home.
Palin disclosed the surprise news Friday afternoon from her home in Wasilla with her husband, Todd, and Lt. Governor Sean Parnell, who the governor said would take over the state on Saturday, July 25th.
With the decision, Palin liberates herself from the political constraints that come with running for president while still in elected office.
Leaving office at the end of the month, the former vice presidential hopeful will be able to travel the country more freely without facing the sort of repeated ethics inquiries she’s been fending off since returning to Alaska earlier this year.
In making her announcement, Palin spoke directly to those inquiries, saying she wouldn’t stand by as taxpayer money was spent to investigate her.
Speaking outside of her home with Lake Lucille in the background, Palin derided the “superficial political bloodsport” that has been aimed at her since rocketing into fame last summer.
And, in remarks that appeared to be off the cuff, Palin also recalled her days as a high school basketball point guard, arguing that she was advancing her state by stepping down.
“I know when it’s time to pass the ball for victory,” Palin said.
But Palin also hinted at her own national ambitions, invoking a quote that she credited to Gen. Douglas MacArthur: “We are not retreating, we are advancing in another direction.”
After the press conference, Palin asked supporters to “stay tuned” via Twitter. “We’ll soon attach info on this decision to not seek re-election.”
Palin has been dogged by a series of ethical complaints, many of which her allies consider as frivolous, and has had to set up a legal defense fund to pay her bills.
Just this week, the Anchorage Daily News reported that these complaints against her administration had reached almost $300,000, much of that sum owing to the so-called “Troopergate” probe of Palin.
Beyond ethical questions, Palin has continued to face other difficulties since her return to Alaska.
Legislators of both parties have complained about some of her time away from the state capitol and Palin has had to grapple with a series of tabloid-type stories relating to her family.
But Palin retains a strong following among many conservatives who were electrified when she was tapped to serve on the GOP ticket by Sen. John McCain last year. She drew thousands of people to a small-town festival in upstate New York last month, some of whom drove a considerable distance just to catch a glimpse of Palin.
Palin allies contend that her star power will still benefit her home state.
“This was a positive forward looking decision for her state, her family and she cares so much for Alaska that she is going to get outside of the bubble and work to its benefit outside,” said Jason Recher, who worked for Palin on last year’s campaign.
But the decision to suddenly quit her post will also reinforce some of the very questions about Palin that were raised in the lengthy Vanity Fair story this week – whether she’s overly erratic and prone to ignore her own political advisers.
Two of own GOP allies were told this week that Palin would announce that she was definitely not running for re-election, but the move to outright leave office has caught many of her supporters by surprise.
Democrats, delighted at yet another opportunity to hammer prominent Republican office-holders, accused Palin of quitting on her state.
“Either Sarah Palin is leaving the people of Alaska high and dry to pursue her long shot national political ambitions or she simply can't handle the job now that her popularity has dimmed and oil revenues are down,” said the DNC’s Brad Woodhouse. “Either way - her decision to abandon her post and the people of Alaska who elected her continues a pattern of bizarre behavior that more than anything else may explain the decision she made today.”
Palin’s office announced Friday morning that she would make an “announcement’ at her home in the afternoon but said nothing more until the governor stood alongside Parnell and much of her Cabinet.