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Palin Endorses Murkowski's GOP Challenger

Sarah Palin has endorsed in several contested GOP primaries this year, but never one so close to home.

In a posting on Facebook this afternoon, the former Alaska governor announces her support for Joe Miller, a Republican who is challenging incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R).

Contested primaries are so good for America's political process! Competition makes everyone work harder, be more efficient, debate clearer, and produce more. So, Alaskans should be thrilled that Joe Miller jumped in the GOP race and is ready, willing, and able to serve us as our next United States Senator.

I'm proud to join so many other long-time Alaskans in supporting Joe Miller in the upcoming Alaska Republican Primary. Joe is a true Commonsense Constitutional Conservative, and we're thankful he and his family are willing to offer us a choice in Alaskan leadership.

Almost a year ago to the date, Palin's SarahPAC contributed $5,000 to Murkowski's campaign, amid speculation that she might enter the race herself (Palin was still serving as governor at the time). Palin now acknowledges that contribution, but says times have changed.

As she and I discussed, this was an attempt to reassure the Senator that I, as Alaska's governor, had no intention of jumping into the race. Though the media has tried to portray some sort of feud or bad blood between Lisa and myself, such is not the case. I've always wished her well, but it is my firm belief that we need a bold reformer who is not afraid to stand up to special interests and take on the tough challenges of our time. Joe Miller has stepped forward. I am thankful for his willingness to serve.

The "bad blood" refers perhaps to the fact that Palin in 2006 challenged Murkowski's father, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski (R), in the GOP primary for governor. She won that race and ultimately the seat, while Murkowski finished third. Murkowski had appointed his daughter to the Senate seat he vacated to become governor; Palin was believed to have been under consideration for that appointment as well.

Since that donation in June and in the wake of Palin's shocking resignation a month later, Murkowski was critical of the former VP nominee. In a statement, Murkowski said she was "deeply disappointed that the governor has decided to abandon the state and her constituents before her term has concluded."

Palin's endorsement comes weeks after her husband, Todd, appeared at a fundraiser for Miller in their hometown of Wasilla. It's also a bold move that will test her political might in her home state. Should Murkowski prevail in the August 10 primary, it would be seen as a sign that her standing has diminished at home as she has become a national brand.

This week, the Democratic mayor of Sitka, Scott McAdams, announced his entry to the race. RCP has classified the race as Safe Republican.

UPDATE: Murkowski's campaign has responded with this statement:

"Alaskans deserve a discourse on the basic issues that impact our everyday lives - good jobs, freedom, and opportunities. Lisa fights every day for Alaska and has a proven track record and commitment to serving our State, and she fully plans to campaign for the privilege to continue to serve the best interests of Alaska. Her efforts and tenacity have delivered better services for our military veterans, stopped overreaching bureaucratic regulations by federal agencies, created better economic and educational opportunities, and defended our 2nd Amendment rights. She is the best candidate to stay on the job and get things done."