What GOP candidates want: a Sarah Palin endorsement

At least one GOP candidate is maneuvering to get an endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, perhaps in a bid to prevent her influential nod from going elsewhere.

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Sure, Sarah Palin lost in last year’s election, but she might be on track to win the title of GOP endorser-in-chief.

Just as we predicted, Republican candidates are starting to compete to win a coveted nod of approval from the ex-governor of Alaska.

First up is Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R) of Illinois, who is running for the Senate seat formerly occupied by Barack Obama. The Washington Post reports that he’s written a letter to a Palin friend that fishes for an endorsement – something “quick and decisive.”

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Problem is, Representative Kirk is something of moderate. He is not at all an ideological fellow traveler of conservative Doug Hoffman, the candidate in New York’s 23rd Congressional District whom Ms. Palin backed in Tuesday’s vote.

What Kirk appears to be trying to do in Illinois is head off a New York-like situation in which Palin backed a conservative, ultimately forcing the official GOP nominee, state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, out of the race.

As one might expect, a conservative Republican running for that Illinois Senate seat has already complained. His name is Patrick Hughes, and he says Kirk is unworthy of Palin’s approval.

“I believe Mark Kirk, who has consistently supported President Obama’s legislative agenda ... is quickly realizing that Republican primary voters do not share his extreme views,” said Mr. Hughes in a statement released by his campaign.

Who will Sarah choose? Mark or Patrick? It’s like the storyline in Archie comics – will he pick Betty, or Veronica? – with the genders reversed.

Democrats are aware of how a spat like this can help them. They won that race in New York’s 23rd, after all, when Palin’s endorsement split the Republican Party. So the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is already out with a letter trying to fan the flames, as MSNBC’s First Read reports.

Framed as a letter to Palin herself, the DSCC missive points out that while Kirk may not be seeking her endorsement, he has had less-than-kind things to say about her in the past.

“Faced with a difficult reelection race in 2008, Kirk told reporters he ‘would have picked someone else’ for Vice-President and that frankly he ‘didn’t know whether you are qualified to be President,’ ” the DSCC pointed out to Palin.

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