Senate races

Sarah Palin’s name floated for Arizona Senate

Given the frontier nature of the Arizona electorate (family values, ardent supporters of the Second Amendment, Protestant leanings), Palin’s fundraising abilities, and her charisma on the stump, Palin will certainly have advantages in the GOP nomination race. Representative Jeff Flake is the only Republican who has officially declared for the 2012 race, but several other names have been floated including Congressman Trent Franks and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

To be honest, Palin can defeat all three potential rivals if she is able to develop a coherent campaign message that appeals to a broad slice of Arizona’s relatively conservative electorate. Fortunately for Flake and company, a recent statewide poll indicates this won’t necessarily be an easy task for Palin as her unfavorables in Arizona are quite high. But never underestimate Mrs. Palin, because with Sarah, trust us, anything is possible.

For those who think we’ve completely lost our minds, there is a strategic benefit to the GOP to having Palin on the 2012 ballot in Arizona.

Team Obama wants to expand the list of 2012 presidential battleground states, and the Grand Canyon State is clearly in their sights. Right now Arizona is in GOP hands, and the Obama folks are wise enough to know that if the eventual Republican presidential nominee has to backtrack and campaign on a regular basis in Arizona, then President Obama improves his re-election odds. 

If Palin is able to secure the GOP nomination for Senate, her candidacy could be a game changer, because she would give Team Obama fits in the Grand Canyon State or even push them to drop it off their list of potential conquest states.

The only real complication for Palin, the duo argue, is if Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) ends up running for the seat. Giffords is still recovering from a gunshot wound to the head sustained earlier this year in a shooting that killed six and left 19 injured. 

In the wake of the attack, Palin endured criticism for what many on the left labeled “inflammatory rhetoric” on the 2010 campaign trail and for a map, displayed on her PAC’s website last cycle, that included a crosshairs symbol over the districts of several House Democrats, including that of Giffords. 

Democrats in the state are cautiously optimistic that Giffords could run for the open seat next year, something she had expressed an interest in prior to the shooting. If she does, writes O’Connell, “all bets would be off and Palin would be better served by focusing her attention elsewhere in 2012.”

Tags Jeff Flake Trent Franks

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