Reeling Conservatives

I was traveling back from Minnesota on Thursday so I was like the last to know about former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s endorsement of former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s campaign for a fifth term as Iowa’s Governor.  I learned of it through Dustin’s post shortly after getting home and checking email.

Color me surprised.  Color Governor Branstad surprised as well.

Some thoughts on this so you don’t think I’m avoiding the issue.  I rarely agree with somebody 100% (including my wife), and I disagree with this endorsement for numerous reasons.

  • There are two other candidates in the race align closer to her values who would have likely benefited from this endorsement if it came early.  I obviously wished she endorsed my candidate, Rod Roberts, but frankly an endorsement five days before the primary won’t really help.  Coming to campaign or help fundraise earlier on would have made a difference though.
  • I don’t think she really has much to gain politically from this either.  For starters this came very late in the primary so she’ll be seen as “Johnny-come-lately.”  Second, Branstad’s campaign is filled with Romney supporters, and Mitt Romney endorsed Governor Branstad earlier.  I wouldn’t count on reciprocity in 2012.
  • If Bob Vander Plaats wins the nomination and then the general election it could, could harm her in 2012 should she decide to run.  If Mike Huckabee runs in 2012, he’s locked up the Vander Plaats endorsement and there could be some ill-will from some of his supporters.

I’m not buying into the meme that Governor Palin committed political suicide however.  People were saying that after she endorsed Rand Paul in the Kentucky Senate Primary, and he won in a landslide.  Obviously Republican voters in Kentucky disagree with that sentiment.  Even James Dobson (who endorsed Vander Plaats) changed his endorsement from Trey Grayson to Rand Paul.  

You hear it from some Chuck DeVore supporters in the California Senate Primary when she endorsed Carly Fiorina.  Fiorina may not be as conservative as DeVore, but she is conservative.  The latest poll shows her leading by double digits the RINO in the race, Tom Campbell (who is also ahead of DeVore in the polls).  Should DeVore win that primary it is unlikely he could beat Senator Barbara Boxer.

So cries that she “sold out” don’t wash with me.  Sure she campaigned for Senator John McCain, did you really think she wouldn’t?  She was also one of the first to endorse Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the NY 23 special election since Dede Scozzafava was more liberal than the Democratic candidate.  She’s been making a number of good endorsements.  Also, she didn’t endorse the incumbent pro-abortion Republican Senator in her own state of Alaska, Lisa Murkowski, she endorsed  Joe Miller instead.

Back to this current endorsement… she may not have picked the most conservative person running, Terry Branstad is certainly better than Dede Scozzafava whom Newt Gingrich endorsed.  He does have a plan to cut taxes and reduce government spending.  He is prolife.  He is certainly better than Governor Chet Culver, and even on the gay marriage issue he would be no worse than neutral which is better than Culver.  This is why I would have no problem voting for him should he win the nomination. 

Would I rather seen her endorse Roberts months ago?  Absolutely.  Would Vander Plaats line up closer to her on issues, probably, but I don’t think she’d go for his executive order idea either.  I also believe at this point in the race it would have been better to support Branstad after the primary should he win the nomination.

You also get a sense that Branstad isn’t her ideal candidate by the endorsement itself.

Iowa, your great state’s motto is “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.” That motto will be well served by voting for Terry Branstad for governor next Tuesday!

Not very specific, she has been more specific with other endorsements.  I think she made a pragmatic choice to endorse the candidate who may not be the most conservative, but the conservative who, in her opinion (and recent polls suggest), has the best chance to win the primary unseat Chet Culver.  Even if she doesn’t fully agree with him.  Josh Painter points out that she has tended to do that with Governor and Senate races, but has gambled on some Congressional races.

In Congressional races, Gov. Palin can afford to bet on some candidates who face longer odds. In many of these races, there are more than just a single conservative candidate running in each primary, so if a few of her choices should lose, the chances are good that other conservatives will be nominated with as good or better odds of winning in the general election. But there are other variables in her calculations. Take, for example, her endorsement of Vaughn Ward for U.S. Congress in Idaho. Though Raul Labrador is a conservative and is supported by the local tea party there, no way was she going to endorse an immigration lawyer who has represented illegal aliens to help them stay in the U.S. Her political enemies would have used such an endorsement to try to paint her as soft on immigration, so Ward’s loss doesn’t hurt her as much as an endorsement for a victorious Labrador would have.

So is her political career in shambles?  How many people have said that in the past, but she keeps coming back?  If Branstad wins I doubt this hurts her at all.  While she likely wouldn’t be supported by campaign surrogates, it could win her some favor by those who voted for him.  I also think most people don’t base their choice on who they will vote for President on an endorsement made two years before.  That would be pretty shallow.  Those who are saying they won’t vote for her (if she even runs) because of this, likely weren’t going to vote for her anyway.

But, I think ultimately this endorsement was about seeing Chet Culver get beat not a possible 2012 run.  Otherwise I think she would have been more invested in it.

So while I disagree with this endorsement, I understand it.  Again I would have preferred my candidate got the nod earlier when it would have helped.  I think she should have stayed out of this particular primary since she was endorsing so late

But I’m not going to throw Sarah Palin under the bus because of an endorsement I disagree with.

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