Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Sarah Palin hits the speaking trail again -- but only briefly

April 14, 2009 |  4:44 am

Alaska Republican Governor Sarah Palin makes a one-day foray out to speak to a right to life dinner in Indiana
Alaska Republican Gov. Sarah Palin makes a rare one-day speaking foray out of Alaska this week.

Doesn't everybody want to go to Indiana in April?

Some politicians way up there in Alaska are apparently grumbling because the legislative session isn't over yet and Juneau might shrivel up even more. According to the Anchorage Daily News, only nine of the 419 bills introduced this session have completed their journey through the Legislature, which must be the governor's fault. The session is due to end Sunday.

This slow legislative progress could mean one of two or three only things: 1) like every other legislature composed of humans, they are leaving a lot until the last minute, 1a) Alaska already has enough laws and these elected folks have finally realized it, or 2) some Alaska politicians on the losing ends of Palin's successful 2005-06 political insurgency are trying to score some points.

And if it also bruises Palin for a possible 2012 GOP presidential try, so much the better.

"She is putting her national political ambitions ahead of the needs of Alaska," said Democratic state chair Patti Higgins.

Palin's office released a somewhat defensive statement Monday, saying that she had long ago consulted with legislative leaders about this 36-hour absence, and none of them expressed any concerns then.

Her statement (see full text below) also pointed out that the GOP vice presidential candidate last year has spent far more time in the state capital during the session than her two immediate predecessors, Republican Frank Murkowski and Democrat Tony Knowles.

By Palin's count, Knowles was absent an average of 38 days during sessions and Murkowski 45 days. Palin has been out of Juneau 14 days, the statement said.

Having spent virtually all of last fall out of state in the presidential campaign, Palin, who faces a re-election campaign next year, appears sensitive to charges of inattention to state business. Although she did make a quick weekend trip to Washington for a banquet this winter, she turned down all media interview requests, which helped avoid calling attention to her presence there.

And she ended up not being a speaker at a major Republican fundraiser there in June, where she was replaced by Newt Gingrich, who is slowly re-emerging from image rehab.

Palin is scheduled to speak Thursday night in Evansville, Ind. to a sold-out Vanderburgh County Right to Life dinner and the next morning at a breakfast for a nonprofit group of parents with Down syndrome children, like Palin's son Trig. The expenses are to be paid by the governor's PAC.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't be absent when new Ticket items are posted. Click here to register for automatic Twitter alerts for each.

Photo: Associated Press

Office of the Governor

Political Adversaries Allow Politics to Cloud Judgment in Final Week

April 13, 2009, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin will attend the Vanderburgh County Right to Life dinner in Evansville, Indiana on Thursday as well as a breakfast the next morning for S.M.I.L.E., a nonprofit organization for families with members who have Down Syndrome. 

Governor Palin had previously personally informed the legislative leadership of her upcoming event and asked if legislators had any problem with her attendance at an event outside the Capitol building.  None expressed concerns. 

And this event doesn’t cost the state a dime – the governor has no staff, not even state security, with her, though her predecessors did travel with state security even on vacations.

This morning the Alaska Democrat Party held a press conference suddenly expressing concern about the governor’s well-publicized short absence from Juneau.   

“It is nothing more than a politically charged shot in the dark,” said Governor Palin’s chief of staff, Mike Nizich.  “We view the legislative session as a very serious state issue.  This isn’t politics for us; this is Alaska’s future.  I have worked for seven governors.  Every governor has traveled during the legislative session.  Had this group done its homework, they would have realized that Governor Palin has had numerous meetings with lawmakers this session and has been in constant communication with them.

“During the final week of session, legislators rarely want governors around stirring things up,” Nizich said.  “We did not anticipate that the governor’s political opponents would want their hands held in the final hours of the session.” 

Thus far during the 26th Alaska Legislature, Governor Palin has laid out a forward-looking agenda, including initiatives and bills to progress such issues as an in-state natural gas pipeline and a consolidation plan for Railbelt utilities. She also has focused on reducing state spending and providing assistance to cash-poor villages in Western Alaska that are facing high energy costs.  The governor has made her spending priorities clear, including the use of federal stimulus dollars.

A historical review shows that Governor Palin has spent the vast majority of time working in Juneau during the legislative session especially when compared with other governors. Governor Knowles traveled an average of 38 days during session and Governor Murkowski traveled an average of 45 days during session. Governor Palin has only been out of Juneau 14 days as she worked in other communities around Alaska this session.  Governor Palin has spent only two days out of state.   ###