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Sarah Palin's 'mama grizzlies' have tough summer: Is she losing her touch?

Sarah Palin has endorsed conservative candidates in dozens of Republican primaries this year. But her chosen office-seekers have been mostly unsuccessful. Has Sarah Palin lost touch with the Republican primary voters who make up her base?

By Philip ElliotAP / August 20, 2010

Sarah Palin, right, speaks at a rally for former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel Aug. 9. Ms. Handel lost the Republican primary runoff against Nathan Deal. Handel joined a number of Sarah Palin endorsees who failed to beat Republican opposition in primary season, causing some to question Palin's cachet with voters.

John Bazemore/AP

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It's been a summer of setbacks for Sarah Palin. Candidate "cubs" endorsed by the Mama Grizzly in Chief have been suffering a recent string of primary election losses.

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The Republicans' 2008 vice presidential nominee promised a pack of "mama grizzly" candidates would rise up and defeat Democrats in this November's elections. But office-seekers she supported in Kansas, Wyoming and Washington state lost their primaries despite her high-profile endorsements.

And Karen Handel lost her runoff contest for Georgia governor a day after sharing an Atlanta stage with Palin.

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Now, Alaska's Senate primary on Tuesday is shaping up as an embarrassing defeat in her own backyard. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is expected to dispatch the
challenger Palin has endorsed in the Republican contest.

Palin says it isn't about picking winners.

"Regardless of whether the many candidates I've had the honor of endorsing win or lose this time around, I support them because they boldly shake things up in their primary races," she said in a Facebook message.

Her choices have included a mix of tea party favorites and other anti-establishment figures.

  • She backed former Super Bowl champion Clint Didier over establishment-recruited Dino Rossi in Washington state's GOP Senate primary. Didier lost on Tuesday.
  • She supported staunchly conservative Rep. Todd Tiahrt in the Kansas GOP Senate primary. He was defeated by Rep. Jerry Moran on Aug. 3.
  • In Wyoming, Palin-endorsed candidate Rita Meyer – whom Palin described as "a unique blend of steel magnolia and mama grizzly" – lost a squeaker of a gubernatorial primary to Matt Mead.
  • And she's going with former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte over wealthy businessmen Bill Binnie and Jim Bender in the state's Sept. 14 Senate primary – a move that drew a page one rebuke in the state's largest newspaper. "The race will be won by the candidate who impresses New Hampshire voters and New Hampshire voters are rarely impressed by what outsiders have to say," wrote New Hampshire Union Leader publisher Joseph McQuaid.