SarahPAC made news this month, both for its fundraising prowess and its “Mama Grizzly” advertisement, which has gone viral on the Internet. She’s made a series of endorsements that give her a high batting average. And it’s paid off for the latest recipient of her blessing.
Is the former Alaska governor trying to boost women, conservatism or is there something else afoot with her support?
I like to pride myself on writing about the rise of women in politics in the past few years. But long before I ever wrote a column, back in 2001, syndicated columnist Matt Towery published his book “Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.” It seemed like a risky move, given how few women were in Congress, the Senate, and Governor Mansions at the time. But you could say it was a decade ahead of its time.
So is SarahPAC an example of a PowerChick takeover? Let’s look at the entire list of endorsements first before we conclude that Mama Grizzlies are devouring the male boars of Republican politics, with Sandra Fish’s article “Sarah Palin’s Endorsement: Curse or Blessing?” in PoliticsDaily.com.
First, she’s endorsed plenty of male candidates, like Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, etc. But several of them are running unopposed in their primaries. She’s endorsed Rand Paul in Kentucky, but he ran against another man (Trey Grayson). The same can be said for Clint Didier (Washington Senate).
In fact, she’s endorsed a few male candidates against female candidates. She opted for Texas Gov. Rick Perry against Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the GOP primary. And she supports Joe Miller’s insurgent campaign against Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski. There’s bad blood between Palin and Murkowski, but that doesn’t explain why Palin donated $5,000 to Murkowski last year, as Fish noted.
Maybe it is a conservative thing, given that Perry and Miller are the more conservative candidates. If that’s the case, then why did she endorse the more moderate candidate in the Arizona Senate race (John McCain vs. J.D. Hayworth), Iowa governor (Terry Branstad vs. Bob Vander Plaats), and send a donation to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham?
Let’s see – backing an Iowa Republican who is more likely to win than govern conservatively, splitting donations between well-known moderates and relatively obscure conservatives (each would “owe” her), making picks in tight races where the slightest endorsement could tip the scales (Haley, Handel, Fiorinia, Angle) – it sounds like a 2012 or 2016 presidential campaign strategy.
John A. Tures is an associate professor of political science at LaGrange College.