“Sarah shocked many when she endorsed me very early in 2016 and we won big,” Trump said in a statement Sunday. “Now it’s my turn! Sarah was an advocate for Alaskan values, Alaskan energy, Alaskan jobs and great Alaskan people.” Like Trump, Palin portrays himself as a brazen voice against the establishment and the media, and the former president went on to commend Palin for speaking out against “corruption” in government and “fake news.”
Republican candidates have scrambled to seek Trump’s support at the 2022 races, even as the former president is slowing his approval and showing his willingness to give up favorites — and last month citing his support for Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala. ) waived after Senate hope went astray slightly from Trump’s unrelenting false narratives about the 2020 presidential race.
Palin’s race and a slew of upcoming primaries will test the might of Trump’s support in 2022 as his gubernatorial nominee fights in Georgia, and some observers say an intense focus on electoral fraud could hurt his election in the broader competition.
Palin presented herself as a fighter against the “radical left” in a Facebook post last week. She became a right-wing star as Senator John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election remained in the headlines after leaving political office, fueling the tea party movement and embracing her pop culture status on reality TV.
“America is at a tipping point,” Palin said in a statement, criticizing inflation, praising the “free market” and condemning illegal immigration. “As I watched the far left destroy the country, I knew I had to stand up and join the fight.”
Palin is up against bipartisan candidates for Young’s seat in the June 11 primary, the first step in a special election under Alaska’s new top-four primary system. The four people who receive the most votes will appear in a leaderboard poll in August.
Voters pushed through the 2020 election process change against opposition from many Republicans. The postponement has upended a previously predictable race in Alaska, where Democrats have not won a federal election in nearly 15 years.
Palin’s opponents include 2020 US Senate Democratic nominee Al Gross, Anchorage Assembly member Christopher Constant (D), and Republican Senator Josh Revak, who led Young’s 2022 reelection campaign.
Palin – who was elected Alaska’s first woman governor in 2006 – paid tribute to Trump as she signaled interest in Young’s former seat.
“We need people like Donald Trump, who, like me, has nothing to lose,” she said on Fox News last month. “We have nothing to lose and nothing more of that vanilla milkquetoast namby pamby … stuff that happened.”
While backing Palin Sunday night, Trump claimed she “lifted McCain’s presidential campaign out of the dustbin.” Palin’s selection as McCain’s running mate delighted the Republican base — but McCain would eventually express regret at his choice. Palin won national acclaim, but also ridicule for gaffes and was portrayed as frivolous and unqualified on Saturday Night Live. Stanford University researchers concluded in a 2010 study that Palin’s presence on the presidential ticket cost McCain 1.6 percentage points, or more than 2 million votes.
Palin’s popularity in Alaska plummeted after her 2008 vice presidential campaign and her decision to step down as governor the following summer. When Palin suggested in 2018 that she could challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) after the moderate incumbent refused to support Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, a poll conducted by Alaska Survey Research found that 31 percent the Alaskans who did this had a favorable view of Palin.
Trump used his support to slam former Palin running mate McCain — a moderate Republican whom Trump has repeatedly attacked, even after the Arizona senator’s death. During his 2015 presidential campaign, Trump infamously said that McCain was “not a war hero” despite his service in Vietnam and quipped that he “liked people who weren’t captured.”
Palin has largely stayed away from national politics for the past decade. But she continued to champion conservative causes and cultivated a following. Palin has sold more than 2 million copies of her memoir, signed a lucrative deal with Fox News, and starred on the TLC show Sarah Palin’s Alaska.
That year, she defied New York City’s coronavirus rules by going unvaccinated in the city and brought her long-running defamation lawsuit against the New York Times to court.
“What am I trying to achieve? Justice for people who expect the truth in the media,” Palin told reporters as she entered the courthouse. A judge dismissed the case in February, saying Palin failed to show that the Times acted with “actual malice,” even as he criticized the paper’s error in a 2017 editorial.
Like others who have won Trump’s support, Palin has helped reinforce the former president’s debunked claims that rampant fraud marred the 2020 election.
“When there was obviously shenanigans going on in so many constituencies, the President insisted that we investigate where all these votes were coming from,” she said last year while arguing with Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain.
David Weigel contributed to this report.