- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 4, 2009

Republican Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska stunned her state and the political world Friday by announcing she will resign her post at the end of the month, igniting speculation about what the move means for her political future and her viability for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2012.

The decision, announced in a hastily called lakeside briefing at her Wasilla, Alaska, home, sparked sharply diverging reactions over its impact on the future of the polarizing Mrs. Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee who remains a very popular figure with much of the conservative Republican base.

Comparing herself to a basketball point guard passing the ball to a teammate, Mrs. Palin said, “I am determined to take the right path for Alaska even though it is unconventional and not so comfortable.”

Some called the decision to resign a canny strategic move that takes Mrs. Palin out of the line of fire and clears her schedule for a presidential run, some theorized the governor had simply grown sick of politics and personal attacks, while others warned that quitting with more than a year left in her term would prove disastrous - perhaps even fatal - for Mrs. Palin’s political future.

Mrs. Palin said that she will step down July 26, with Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who was at her side at the press conference, taking over as governor.

Mr. Parnell called Mrs. Palin’s decision “selfless” and said he would work with her staff for “a seamless transition.” She did not take questions from the few Alaska reporters who made it to Wasilla and only cryptically referred to her future plans.

Democrats immediately pounced on the news.

“Either Sarah Palin is leaving the people of Alaska high and dry to pursue her long-shot national political ambitions or she simply can’t handle the job now that her popularity has dimmed and oil revenues are down,” said Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse.

One of Mrs. Palin’s political rivals did not parse words in a terse statement sent after midnight.

I am deeply disappointed that the governor has decided to abandon the state and her constituents before her term has concluded, said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican.

Decrying what she has called politically motivated attacks on her family and her ethics, 45-year-old Mrs. Palin in a lengthy, at times rambling statement said she would rather “effect positive change outside government at this moment in time on another scale and actually make a difference for our priorities.”

Shortly after concluding her statement, the governor sent out a Twitter message to supporters that read: “We’ll soon attach info on decision not to seek re-election. … This is in Alaska’s best interest, my family’s happy. … It is good, stay tuned.”

Jason Recher, an aide who worked for Mrs. Palin during last year’s campaign, said the environment in Alaska had changed so much since August “with the influx of the national anti-Republican, anti-Palin movement - it’s been like an avalanche.”

“With all the frivilous ethics complaints, it just had become completely unsustainable for her to be governor,” he said.

The stunning move is certain to scramble political calculations for the Republican presidential field for 2012. Many had expected Mrs. Palin to announce she would not seek re-election but would serve out her term, which ends in December 2010.

Story Continues →