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August 29, 2008

Alaska GOP-ers have frosty reaction to Palin pick

It will be fascinating to see the Alaska Republican delegation front and center at this week’s Republican National Convention now that Alaska governor Sarah Palin will be on the ticket.

This is a state party whose establishment faction, to put it mildly, isn’t too enamored with their reform-minded governor.

This is a state party whose chairman, Randy Ruedrich, has been feuding with Palin for years. Palin exposed Ruedrich for ethical violations in 2004 when both served on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission — and their relationship has been frosty ever since.

Ruedrich declined to comment at the historic nature of having an Alaskan on the national ticket for the first time in the state’s history.

And this is a governor who bucked the establishment in endorsing her lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, over Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who has represented the state in Congress for more than three decades.

The legislative leadership of the Alaska Republican Party isn’t enamored with Palin’s selection, either, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

State Senate President Lyda Green said she thought it was a joke when someone called her at 6 a.m. to tell her the news.
"She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?" said Green, a Republican from Palin's hometown of Wasilla. "Look at what she's done to this state. What would she do to the nation?"

Green, who has feuded with Palin, brought up the big oil tax increase Palin pushed through last year. She also pointed to the award of a $500 million state subsidy to a Canadian firm to pursue a natural gas pipeline that's far from guaranteed.

House Speaker John Harris, a Republican from Valdez, was also astonished at the news. He didn't want to get into the issue of her qualifications.

"She's old enough," Harris said. "She's a U.S. citizen."

It's striking to see the state's Democratic congressional nominee effusively praising Palin, while the leading Alaska Republicans are shunning her.  

Taking on the GOP establishment is a central part of her appeal — and a major reason why McCain picked her — but her frosty relationship with much of her own statewide party will make for some interesting Alaska delegation breakfasts next week.