The Sarah Palin Effect in California Politics
When Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced she would resign from office a full 18 months before the end of her term, some concluded that she was positioning herself for a 2012 run for president. Others believed she was bowing out of politics after the drubbing she took during and after last year’s presidential campaign, when she was the Republican vice presidential nominee. I’m not speculating on her future.
What I do believe is that her famously-dramatic and fashion-filled days on the media-rich campaign trail, running as the first-ever female Republican vice presidential candidate, opened a very important window for attractive, accomplished Republican women to try for other high offices. For example, California has never had a Republican woman governor or U.S. Senator. In fact, there’s never been a GOP woman nominated for either office.
Like Palin, her life has a storybook quality to it. Whitman grew up in a wealthy family living in a posh waterfont community. She was a talented high school athlete and captain of her swimming team. Instead of going to medical school as planned, she married a medical student who became a brain surgeon. She’s the first woman to become a billionaire because of stock holdings in an internet company and her two sons attend Princeton.
Where would Sarah Palin stand with either woman’s candidacy? Palin explains she is pro-life and against same-sex marriage, supports the teaching of creationism in public school, is a lifelong NRA member and supports the constitutional right to bear arms. Whitman and Fiorina differ on the abortion issue. The gubernatorial candidate is pro-choice, while Fiorina declares she’s pro-life. California conservatives will support Fiorina’s views, while California voters are likely to side with Whitman on this issue.
Whitman favors tough gun laws and parental abortion consent. Fiorina opposes gun laws. Neither has a strong voting history which they readily admit and acknowledge they were wrong. But despite this weakness, both remain frontrunners as Republicans continue their new found love affair with strong female candidates with sizzle.