Alaska is supposed to be friendly territory for Sarah Palin. Sure, she left the state before she finished her job as governor with declining poll numbers among both Democrats and Republicans. And yes, GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski won a write-in campaign in the face of a Palin-backed Tea Party candidate last November. But Alaska is home. Yet for Palin, it appears to be a more hostile environment than the friendly confines of the Fox News set where she spends much of her time.
Palin the individual is certainly under fire as she continues with life after her vice presidential run, but it's the policies from her time as Alaska governor that are being undone by her former lieutenant governor — who is now the governor.
Republican Sean Parnell is now top top dog in Alaska, and a recent New York Times piece pointed out that Parnell has been dismantling Palin’s energy initiatives one by one. Parnell’s first priority, according to the article, was to undo major tax increases that Palin put in place for oil companies. Parnell says the hike in state taxes for the industry is hurting the Alaskan economy. This completely contradicts the sound bites Palin spews on Fox News about the federal government’s regulation of oil being a hindrance on the economy there.
Then there is Palin’s signature gubernatorial campaign issue: a 1,700-mile pipeline across the state that would connect potential new supplies of oil to the lower 48 states. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, and the plan’s demise comes at the hands of Republicans, according to the Times. “She made it an issue,” said Mike Chenault, the Republican speaker of the Alaska state House, who has sponsored a bill that would end Palin’s pipeline plan if firm evidence of progress is not documented by this summer. “That was the way that Alaska was going to move forward. As of yet, we haven’t, in my opinion, moved one step forward.”
So what does this mean? For Palin’s potential White House run, her problems back home are hard to gauge. I just don’t see Alaska voting for Barack Obama in 2012, but you never know. But even if Alaska sent its three electoral votes to someone other than Palin (assuming she is the Republican nominee), the three votes would be less of an issue than her platform.
Palin’s political record is brief, but her policy bread and butter has always been energy. She comes from an energy state, and gas prices are likely to be high over the next two years. So, in theory, this should be right up her alley. If her policies on energy in Alaska are undermined by those in her own party, how can anyone take her seriously on a national level? It could be a problem.