Trump endorsement boosts Palin's congressional bid

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

When Sarah Palin announced that she would be entering the special primary to fill Don Young’s seat in the House, I posed a few questions. One of these was whether or not she would wind up getting a Trump endorsement to help drive up her totals. We didn’t have to wait long to find out. Trump released an enthusiastic statement of support yesterday, noting that he was “returning the favor” of Palin endorsing him in his first run for President. So Trump has now endorsed candidates in both the House and Senate races taking place this year. Neither candidate has a cakewalk in front of them, so this will likely be seen as a test of how much influence the former president still has on the party at large. (NBC News)

Former President Donald Trump on Sunday endorsed Sarah Palin in her bid for Congress, saying he is returning the favor after she endorsed him “early” in his campaign for president.

In a statement released through his Save America political action committee, Trump praised Palin for backing him for president in 2016.

“Sarah shocked many when she endorsed me very early in 2016, and we won big,” Trump said. “Now, it’s my turn! Sarah has been a champion for Alaska values, Alaska energy, Alaska jobs, and the great people of Alaska.”

Trump also had kind words for Young, whom he called “legendary.”

In the morning newsletter that NBC sends out, they tried to make the case that Palin is “far from a slam dunk to win.” They raised many of the same points that I brought up on Saturday, noting the very crowded special primary field (51 candidates and counting), the “jungle primary” process being used, and the ranked-choice voting that will be employed in the special election in August. But they also posed the question of whether or not Palin “has the local juice to win a statewide contest.”

That seems like a rather odd question to ask of someone who was governor, doesn’t it? They also note that she “famously (or infamously) resigned as the state’s governor” in 2009. I’ll admit that I was critical of her decision at the time also, but when you consider that she and her husband ran up half a million dollars in legal fees fending off endless, baseless accusations from her political enemies, it’s a bit more understandable.

Perhaps the biggest thing Palin has to worry about is the fact that Nick Begich III is also running in the primary. He seemed to be attracting a lot of GOP support up until Palin entered the race this weekend and he comes from a well-established political dynasty in Alaska. If the two of them wind up splitting the same voter pool it could lead to some potentially interesting and unpredictable results under the jungle primary rules.

We probably shouldn’t be viewing this race as being entirely a benchmark of Donald Trump’s current level of influence. That may be more the case when he tosses out an endorsement to a political newcomer with little experience or name recognition. But Sarah Palin is a known quantity, both in Alaska and nationally. She’s going to rise or fall on her own merits. This race is more likely going to be a case of taking the temperature of Alaska’s Republicans and conservatives. The Palin years in Alaska were chaotic, to put it mildly. Was it the sort of chaos that the voters would welcome back or would they prefer to keep the waters a bit more calm? If it’s the latter, then Begich might be viewed as the safer choice. But I know who I’m rooting for. Palin has the ability to produce headlines like almost nobody else except Trump himself.