In Alaska, many pine for the old Palin
The governor is a hot ticket in the Lower 48, but her in-state approval is sagging.
In the Lower 48, Alaska’s governor has been basking in the white-hot celebrity spotlight, leading parades, signing autographs, blasting President Obama, appearing on news shows and in national magazines, and, most famously, feuding with talk-show host David Letterman.Skip to next paragraph
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Back home, meanwhile, some Alaskans are feeling neglected by Sarah Palin, the governor catapulted from obscurity to fame when she became the Republicans’ vice-presidential candidate.
Recent polls put Governor Palin’s in-state approval rating in the low or mid-50s, respectable but a far cry from one-time ratings near 90 percent. Some tie the drop to what they say is her newfound proclivity for “red meat” conservative issues over pragmatic Alaskan interests. Others cringe at the family melodramas that have become tabloid fodder. Either way, the loss of support for “Sarah-dise” – the nickname used for Palin’s smooth-running early tenure – includes some notable figures.
Take former Gov. Wally Hickel, the elder statesman who co-chaired Palin’s gubernatorial campaign and to whom Palin referred as her mentor. He broke with his protégée months ago.
“When Governor Sarah Palin was elected in 2006, we believed she would put Alaska first. But once elected, she put Sarah first,” he said in a statement June 11. “Because of her national ambitions, she is promoting an agenda that will allow outside corporations to dominate Alaska’s resources, including our energy and the jobs it provides.”
Pushback in the Legislature
Take the once-compliant state Legislature, now pushing back against Palin. Lawmakers in April blocked her choice for state attorney general, making controversial Anchorage lawyer Wayne Anthony Ross the first cabinet nominee ever rejected in Alaska. Now, lawmakers have gathered near-unanimous support to override Palin’s veto of $28 million in federal stimulus funding for energy-conservation projects. The veto, critics say, was calculated to appeal to her conservative base in the Lower 48.
Take Alaska Natives, who say their interests are more ignored than ever.
“She can see Russia out of her house, but she can’t seem to see the things that our villages are dealing with,” says Myron Naneng, president of the Association of Village Council Presidents, a tribal group serving the poverty-stricken Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska. Palin’s nomination of Mr. Ross, who has spent much of his career fighting native hunting, fishing, and tribal interests, added “insult to injury,” Mr. Naneng says.
Native fishermen along the lower Yukon River in the past week protested with their nets, illegally catching salmon they believe has been unfairly denied to them by a neglectful governor and her administration.