Sarah Louise Heath Palin is the governor of the U.S. state of Alaska.
Palin was a member of the Wasilla, Alaska, city council from 1992 to 1996 and the city's mayor from 1996 to 2002. After an unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor of Alaska in 2002, she chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from 2003 to 2004. She was elected governor of Alaska in November 2006 by defeating Frank Murkowski, the incumbent governor, in the Republican primary, and then defeating Tony Knowles, a former two-term Democratic governor, in the general election. She is the first female governor of Alaska and the youngest person elected governor of that state.
Palin was the Republican Party's vice-presidential nominee for the 2008 United States presidential election together with Senator John McCain. The election was won by Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Palin was the second female candidate and the first Alaskan candidate of either major party, as well as the first female vice-presidential nominee of the Republican Party.
Early life and education
Palin was born in Sandpoint, Idaho, the third of four children of Sarah Heath, a school secretary, and Charles R. Heath, a science teacher and track coach. The family moved to Alaska when she was an infant. As a child, she sometimes went moose hunting with her father before school. The family regularly ran 5 km and 10 km races.
Palin attended Wasilla High School in Wasilla, located 44 miles (71 km) north of Anchorage. She was the head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at the school and the point guard and captain of the school's girls' basketball team that won the Alaska state championship in 1982.
In 1982, she enrolled at Hawaii Pacific College, but left after her first semester. She transferred to North Idaho community college, where she spent two semesters as a general studies major. From there, she transferred to the University of Idaho for two semesters. During this time Palin won the Miss Wasilla Pageant, then finished third in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant, at which she won a college scholarship and the "Miss Congeniality" award. Afterwards, Palin attended the Matanuska-Susitna community college in Alaska for one term. The next year she returned to the University of Idaho where she spent three semesters completing her Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism, graduating in 1987.
In 1988, she worked as a sports reporter for KTUU-TV and KTVA-TV in Anchorage, Alaska, and for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman as a sports reporter. She also helped in her husband’s commercial fishing family business
City council of Wasilla
See also: Electoral history of Sarah Palin
Palin was elected twice to the city council of Wasilla, in 1992 and 1995. Wasilla city councillors serve three-year terms.Palin says she entered politics because she was concerned that revenue from a new Wasilla sales tax would not be spent wisely.
Palin's first foray into politics was in 1992, when the then 28-year-old ran for Wasilla city council against John Hartrick, a local telephone company worker. She won 530 votes against John Hartrick’s 310. On the council, she successfully opposed a measure to curtail the hours at Wasilla's bars by two hours. This surprised Hartrick because she was then a member of a church that advocated abstinence from alcohol. After serving on the city council for three years, she ran for reelection against R’nita Rogers in 1995, winning 413 votes to Rogers' 185.
Palin did not complete her second term on the city council because she ran for mayor in 1996. Throughout her tenure on the city council and the rest of her career, Palin has been a registered Republican.
Mayor of Wasilla
Main article: Mayoralty of Sarah Palin
Palin served two three-year terms (1996–2002) as the mayor of Wasilla. At the conclusion of Palin's tenure as mayor in 2002, the city had about 6,300 residents. In 1996, Palin defeated three-term incumbent mayor John Stein, on a platform targeting wasteful spending and high taxes.Stein says that she introduced abortion, gun rights, and term limits as campaign issues. Although the election was a nonpartisan blanket primary, the state Republican Party ran advertisements on her behalf.
Wasilla City Hall
Location of Wasilla, AlaskaShortly after taking office in October 1996, Palin consolidated the position of museum director and asked for updated resumes and resignation letters from some top officials, including the police chief, public works director, finance director, and librarian. Palin stated this request was to find out their intentions and whether they supported her. She temporarily required department heads to get her approval before talking to reporters, saying that they first needed to become acquainted with her administration's policies. She created the position of city administrator, and reduced her own $68,000 salary by 10%, although by mid-1998 this was reversed by the city council.
During her first year in office, Palin kept a jar with the names of Wasilla residents on her desk, and once a week she pulled a name from it and picked up the phone; she would ask: "How's the city doing?" Using income generated by a 2% sales tax that was enacted before she was elected to the city council, Palin cut property taxes by 75% and eliminated personal property and business inventory taxes. Tapping municipal bonds, she made improvements to the roads and sewers, and increased funding to the Police Department. She also oversaw new bike paths and procured funding for storm-water treatment to protect freshwater resources. At the same time, she reduced spending on the town museum and blocked construction of a new library and city hall.
Palin ran for re-election against Stein in 1999 and won, with 74% of the vote. She was also elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.
During her second term as mayor, Palin introduced a ballot measure proposing the construction of a municipal sports center to be financed by a 0.5% sales tax increase. The $14.7 million Wasilla Multi-Use Sports Complex was built on time and under budget, but the city spent an additional $1.3 million because of an eminent domain lawsuit caused by the failure to obtain clear title to the property before beginning construction. The city's long-term debt grew from about $1 million to $25 million through voter-approved indebtedness of $15 million for the sports complex, $5.5 million for street projects, and $3 million for water improvement projects. A city council member defended the spending increases as being caused by the city's growth during that time.
Palin also joined with nearby communities in jointly hiring the Anchorage-based lobbying firm of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh to lobby for federal funds. The firm secured nearly $8 million in earmarked funds for the Wasilla city government, and another $19 million for other public and private entities in the Wasilla valley area. Earmarks included $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project linking Wasilla and the ski resort community of Girdwood. Term limits prevented Palin from running for a third term as mayor in 2002.
In 2002, Palin ran for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, coming in second to Loren Leman in a five-way Republican primary. The Republican ticket of U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski and Leman won the November 2002 election. When Murkowski resigned from his long-held U.S. Senate seat in December 2002 to become governor, he considered appointing Palin to replace him in the Senate, but chose his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, who was then an Alaskan state representative.
Governor Murkowski appointed Palin to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. She chaired the Commission beginning in 2003, serving as Ethics Supervisor. Palin resigned in January 2004, protesting what she called the "lack of ethics" of fellow Republican members.
After resigning, Palin filed a formal complaint against Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioner Randy Ruedrich, also the chair of the state Republican Party, accusing him of doing work for the party on public time and of working closely with a company he was supposed to be regulating. She also joined with Democratic legislator Eric Croft to file a complaint against Gregg Renkes, a former Alaskan Attorney General, accusing him of having a financial conflict of interest in negotiating a coal exporting trade agreement, while Renkes was the subject of investigation and after records suggesting a possible conflict of interest had been released to the public. Ruedrich and Renkes both resigned and Ruedrich paid a record $12,000 fine.
From 2003 to June 2005, Palin served as one of three directors of "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.," a 527 group designed to provide political training for Republican women in Alaska. In 2004, Palin told the Anchorage Daily News that she had decided not to run for the U.S. Senate that year, against the Republican incumbent, Lisa Murkowski, because her teenage son opposed it. Palin said, "How could I be the team mom if I was a U.S. Senator?"
Governor of Alaska
Main article: Governorship of Sarah Palin
Palin visits soldiers of the Alaska National Guard, July 24, 2007.In 2006, running on a clean-government platform, Palin defeated incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Her running mate was State Senator Sean Parnell.
Despite being outspent by her Democratic opponent, she won the gubernatorial election in November, defeating former governor Tony Knowles by a margin of 48.3% to 40.9%. Palin became Alaska's first female governor, and at the age of 42, the youngest governor in Alaskan history. She is the state's first governor to have been born after Alaska achieved U.S. statehood, and the first not to be inaugurated in Juneau; she chose to have the ceremony held in Fairbanks instead. She took office on December 4, 2006, and has been very popular with Alaska voters. Polls taken in 2007 early in her term showed her with a 93% and 89% popularity among all voters, which led some media outlets to call her "the most popular governor in America." A poll taken in late September 2008 after Palin was named to the national Republican ticket showed her popularity in Alaska at 68%.
Palin declared that top priorities of her administration would be resource development, education and workforce development, public health and safety, and transportation and infrastructure development. She had championed ethics reform throughout her election campaign. Her first legislative action after taking office was to push for a bipartisan ethics reform bill. She signed the resulting legislation in July 2007, calling it a "first step", and declaring that she remained determined to clean up Alaska politics.
Palin tries out the Engagement Skills Trainer, July 24, 2007.Palin has sometimes broken with the state Republican establishment. For example, she endorsed Sean Parnell's bid to unseat the state's longtime at-large U.S. Representative, Don Young. Palin has publicly challenged Senator Ted Stevens to come clean about the ongoing federal investigation into his financial dealings. Shortly before his July 2008 indictment, she held a joint news conference with Stevens, described by The Washington Post as needed "to make clear she had not abandoned him politically."
Palin promoted oil and natural gas resource development in Alaska, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Proposals to drill for oil in ANWR have been the subject of a national debate.
In 2006, Palin obtained a passport and in 2007 traveled for the first time outside of North America on a trip to Kuwait. There she visited the Khabari Alawazem Crossing at the Kuwait–Iraq border and met with members of the Alaska National Guard at several bases. On her return trip to the U.S., she visited injured soldiers in Germany.
Budget, spending, and federal funds
Governor Palin in Germany, July 2007In June 2007, Palin signed a record $6.6 billion operating budget into law. At the same time, she used her veto power to make the second-largest cuts of the construction budget in state history. The $237 million in cuts represented over 300 local projects, and reduced the construction budget to $1.6 billion. In 2008, Palin vetoed $286 million, cutting or reducing funding for 350 projects from the FY09 capital budget.
Palin followed through on a campaign promise to sell the Westwind II jet, a purchase made by the Murkowski administration for $2.7 million in 2005 against the wishes of the legislature. In August 2007, the jet was listed on eBay, but the sale fell through, and the plane was later sold for $2.1 million through a private brokerage firm.
Palin lives in Juneau during the legislative session and lives in Wasilla and works out of offices in Anchorage the rest of the year. Since the office in Anchorage is far from Juneau, while she works there, state officials say she is legally entitled to a $58 per diem travel allowance, which she has taken (a total of $16,951), and to reimbursement for hotels, which she has not, choosing instead to drive about 50 miles to her home in Wasilla. She also chose not to use the former governor's private chef. Democrats criticized Palin for taking the per diem and $43,490 in travel expenses for the times her family accompanied her on state business. In response, the governor's staffers said that these practices were in line with state policy, that Palin's gubernatorial expenses are 80% below those of her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, and that "many of the hundreds of invitations Palin receives include requests for her to bring her family, placing the definition of 'state business' with the party extending the invitation."
In her State of the State Address on January 17, 2008, Palin declared that the people of Alaska "can and must continue to develop our economy, because we cannot and must not rely so heavily on federal government [funding]." Alaska's federal congressional representatives cut back on pork-barrel project requests during Palin's time as governor; despite this, in 2008 Alaska was still the largest per-capita recipient of federal earmarks, requesting nearly $750 million in special federal spending over a period of two years.
While there is no sales tax or income tax in Alaska, state revenues doubled to $10 billion in 2008. For the 2009 budget, Palin gave a list of 31 proposed federal earmarks or requests for funding, totaling $197 million, to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Palin’s decreasing support for federal funding has been a leading source of friction between herself and the state's congressional delegation; Palin has requested less in federal funding each year than her predecessor Frank Murkowski requested in his last year.
Bridge to Nowhere and Knik Arm Bridge
See also: Gravina Island Bridge and Knik Arm Bridge
See also: Use of "Bridge to Nowhere" in 2008 campaign
In 2005, before Palin was elected governor, Congress passed a $442-million earmark for constructing two Alaska bridges as part of an omnibus spending bill. The Gravina Island Bridge was proposed to connect Ketchikan to sparsely populated Gravina Island where an international airport serves over 200,000 passengers per year and the existing ferry carries 400,000 passengers per year. The Knik Arm Bridge (also known as "Don Young's Way" after Alaska's Congressman Don Young) was to provide an alternate link between heavily-populated Anchorage and Wasilla, 44 miles away. The Gravina Island Bridge proposal became nicknamed the "Bridge to Nowhere" because of the island's population of fifty people. More rarely, the term "Bridges to Nowhere" has been applied to both bridge proposals. Critics of the two bridge proposals gave them national attention as symbols of pork-barrel spending, and Congress responded to the intense criticism by stripping the earmark from the bill before final passage in November 2005 and instead giving the $442 million to Alaska as transportation money with no strings attached.
Sarah Palin holds up a t-shirt reading "Nowhere Alaska 99901" while visiting Ketchikan during her Gubernatorial campaign in 2006; the zip code for the area is 99901.In 2006, Palin ran for governor with a "build-the-bridge" plank in her platform, saying she would "not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project [...] into something that's so negative." Palin criticized the use of the word "nowhere" as insulting to local residents and urged speedy work on building the infrastructure "while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.
As governor Palin canceled the Gravina Island Bridge in September 2007, saying that Congress had "little interest in spending any more money" due to what she called "inaccurate portrayals of the projects." She opted not to return the $442 million in federal transportation funds. Palin maintained her support for a controversial highway on the bridgeless Gravina Island, committing $25 million in federal funds to the project saying through her spokesperson that it would open territory for development. Alaska state officials said if the money were not used for the road it would have had to have been returned to the federal government. She also directed state officials to explore other ways to provide access to the island.
Later, as a vice-presidential candidate, Palin characterized her position as having told Congress "thanks, but no thanks, on that bridge to nowhere." This angered some Alaskans in Ketchikan, who said that the claim was false and a betrayal of Palin's previous support for their community. Meanwhile, some critics complained that this statement was misleading, since she had repeatedly expressed support for the spending project and even kept the Federal money after the project was canceled. Palin continues to support the Knik Arm project.
See also: Alaska Gas Pipeline
In August 2008, Palin signed a bill authorizing the State of Alaska to award TransCanada Pipelines — the sole bidder to meet the state's requirements — a license to build and operate a pipeline to transport natural gas from the North Slope to the Continental United States through Canada. The governor also pledged $500 million in seed money to support the project. It is estimated that the project will cost $26 billion. Newsweek described the project as "the principal achievement of Sarah Palin's term as Alaska's governor." The pipeline faces legal challenges from Canadian First Nations (aboriginal peoples).
In 2007, Palin supported a 2003 Alaska Department of Fish and Game policy allowing the hunting of wolves from the air as part of a predator control program intended to increase moose and caribou populations for subsistence-food gatherers and other hunters. In March 2007, Palin's office announced that a bounty of $150 per wolf would be paid to the 180 volunteer pilots and gunners, to offset fuel costs, in 5 areas of Alaska. 607 wolves had been killed in the prior four years. State biologists wanted 382 to 664 wolves killed by the end of the predator-control season in April 2007. Wildlife activists sued the state, and a state judge declared the bounty illegal on the basis that a bounty would have to be offered by the Board of Game and not by the Department of Fish and Game.
2008 vice-presidential campaign
Main article: John McCain presidential campaign, 2008
See also: Republican Party (United States) vice presidential candidates, 2008
Palin addresses the 2008 Republican National ConventionOn August 29, 2008, in Dayton, Ohio, Republican presidential candidate John McCain announced that he had chosen Palin as his running mate. According to Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for John McCain, he first met Palin at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington in February 2008 and came away "extraordinarily impressed." He called Palin on August 24 to discuss the possibility of having her join him on the ticket. On August 27, she visited McCain's vacation home near Sedona, Arizona, where she was offered the position of vice-presidential candidate. Palin was the only prospective running mate who had a face-to-face interview with McCain to discuss joining the ticket that week. Nonetheless, Palin's selection was a surprise to many as speculation had centered on other candidates, such as Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, United States Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge.
Palin is the first Alaskan and the second woman to run on a major U.S. party ticket. The first woman was Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1984, who ran with former vice-president Walter Mondale. On September 3, 2008, Palin delivered a 40-minute acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention that was well-received and watched by more than 40 million viewers.
Several conservative commentators met Palin in the summer of 2007 when they sailed on cruises that docked in Juneau. Some of them, such as Bill Kristol, urged McCain to pick Palin, arguing that her presence on the ticket would provide a boost in enthusiasm among the religious right wing of the Republican party, while her status as an unknown on the national scene would also be a positive factor for McCain's campaign.
Since Palin was largely unknown outside Alaska before her selection by McCain, her personal life, positions, and political record drew intense media attention and scrutiny. Some Republicans felt that Palin was being subjected to unreasonable media coverage, a sentiment Palin noted in her acceptance speech. A poll taken immediately after the Republican convention found that slightly more than half of Americans believed that the media was "trying to hurt" Palin with negative coverage.
In 1988, she eloped with her childhood sweetheart Todd Palin. According to her mother, she believed that her parents "couldn't afford a big white wedding." Todd Palin works for the London-based oil company BP as an oil-field production operator and owns a commercial fishing business. The Palins have an estimated combined net worth of over $1 million.
Palin family members at the announcement of her vice-presidential selection, August 29, 2008. From left to right: Todd, Piper, Willow, Bristol and Trig.Palin describes herself as a hockey mom. The Palins have five children: sons Track (b. 1989) and Trig (b. 2008), and daughters Bristol (b. 1990), Willow (b. 1995), and Piper (b. 2001). Track enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 11, 2007, and was subsequently assigned to an infantry brigade. He and his unit deployed to Iraq in September 2008 for 12 months. On September 1, 2008, Palin announced that Bristol was five months pregnant and that she intends to keep the baby and marry Levi Johnston, the father of the child. Palin's youngest child, Trig, was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Palin was born into a Roman Catholic family. Later, her family joined the Wasilla Assembly of God, a Pentecostal church, which she attended until 2002. Palin then switched to the Wasilla Bible Church because, she said, she preferred the children's ministries offered there. When in Juneau, she attends the Juneau Christian Center Her current home church is the Wasilla Bible Church, an independent congregation. Palin described herself in an interview as a "Bible-believing Christian." After the Republican National Convention, a spokesperson for the McCain campaign told CNN that Palin "doesn't consider herself Pentecostal" and has "deep religious convictions."
Main article: Political positions of Sarah Palin
Palin has been a registered Republican since 1982, and has described the Republican Party platform as "the right agenda for America". According to Mary Glazier, an ordained minister who helped bring together the prayer networks in Alaska, Palin was an active member of Glazier's prayer group in Wasilla when God "began to speak" to her about going into politics. In a 2006 gubernatorial debate, responding to a question asking the candidates whether they would support teaching creationism in public schools, Palin stated that she supported teaching both creationism and evolution. Shortly after that debate, however, Palin said in an interview that she had only meant to say she supports allowing the discussion of creationism in public schools, but says it does not have to be part of the curriculum. She supports sex education in public schools that encourages abstinence but also discusses birth control.
Palin opposes same-sex marriage and supported a non-binding referendum for an Alaskan constitutional amendment to deny state health benefits to same-sex couples; however, early in her gubernatorial term she vetoed such a bill, citing its current unconstitutionality. Palin has called herself "as pro-life as any candidate can be" and has called abortion an "atrocity." Palin has stated that abortion should be banned in nearly all cases, including rape and incest, except if the life of the mother is endangered. Palin has stated that she does not support embryonic stem cell research. A lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), she believes the right to bear arms includes handgun possession, and is against a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons. She has supported gun safety education for youth. She supports capital punishment.
Regarding foreign policy, Palin supports the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq, but is concerned that "dependence on foreign energy" may be obstructing efforts to "have an exit plan in place". Palin supports preemptive military action in the face of an imminent threat, and supports U.S. military operations in Pakistan. She declined to give a yes or no answer regarding whether U.S. military forces should make cross-border attacks into Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government She supports NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, and affirms that if Russia invaded a NATO member, the United States should meet its treaty obligations.
William Kristol of the Weekly Standard wrote: "There she is: a working woman who's a proud wife and mother; a traditionalist in important matters who's broken through all kinds of barriers; a reformer who's a Republican; a challenger of a corrupt good-old-boy establishment who's a conservative; a successful woman whose life is unapologetically grounded in religious belief; a lady who's a leader."
On December 1. 2008, TV Guide reported that Palin has been selected as one of America’s top ten most fascinating people of 2008 for an upcoming Barbara Walters ABC special due to air on December 4, 2008.
Who I'd like to meet:
All my supporters. Together we can make history. Sarah Palin for President 2012. A woman of Integrity, Dignity and Character. Vote for Sarah Palin.