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Sarah Palin anoints a new 'mama grizzly': Does it make a difference?

Sarah Palin endorsed Wyoming State Auditor Rita Meyer as a ‘mama grizzly’ Thursday. The Wyoming gubernatorial candidate joins Palin’s growing sisterhood of conservative feminists.

By Staff Writer / July 30, 2010

Wyoming State Auditor Rita Meyer sits with Matt Mead, a former U.S. Attorney for Wyoming, and Wyoming House Speaker Colin Simpson in a forum for candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor in Cheyenne, on June 15. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin endorsed Meyer as a ‘mama grizzly’ Thursday.

Matt Joyce/AP

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Sarah Palin has clearly hit on a successful formula: The former Alaska governor endorses a conservative woman candidate, anoints her a “mama grizzly,” and watches the headlines roll in.

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Several of these women have gone on to win their primaries. Two have lost. Many more still face primaries. But even if the power of a single endorsement remains debatable, there’s no doubt when Ms. Palin is the endorser that it gives the candidate a shot of free publicity and builds Palin’s reputation as a kingmaker.

Before Thursday, who outside of Wyoming (or even inside) had heard of State Auditor Rita Meyer, one of several Republicans running for their party’s gubernatorial nomination? Now, following Palin’s Facebook endorsement late Thursday, we know that Ms. Meyer is a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and has served 23 years in the Wyoming Air National Guard, now as a colonel. She has, Palin asserted, “a unique blend of steel magnolia and mama grizzly."

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Meyer faces several men in the Aug. 17 primary – including state House Speaker Colin Simpson, son of former Sen. Alan Simpson (R) – and fares slightly better than each of them in a recent Rasmussen Poll matching the various Republicans against possible Democratic nominees. No matter the matchup, the Republican beats the Democrat by about a 2-1 margin, according to the poll. In short, the winner of the Republican primary has an excellent shot at winning the governor’s race.

Palin’s endorsement seemed to have a big impact on South Carolina's Republican gubernatorial primary, in which she endorsed state Rep. Nikki Haley. Representative Haley was already on the rise when Palin came in, having been touted previously by RedState blogger Erick Erickson and columnist Kathleen Parker, and endorsed by expected 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But no one has the star power of Palin. And Haley shocked the field by attracting so many votes in the first round of the primary that she almost avoided a runoff.

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