Well, it’s been a little over 24 hours and already the possiblity of Governor Sarah Palin jockeying for Alaska Senator Ted Stevens’ Senate seat is being seriously considered. The Alaska Dispatch published an article today exploring Gov. Palin’s next power grab in her zealous quest for what she sees as the ultimate prize, the United States presidency.
Governor Sarah Palin just issued an updated statement on Sen. Ted Stevens’ guilty verdict, saying “the time has come for him to step aside.” But what stands out most is the next sentence in her statement. “Even if elected on Tuesday,” Palin says, “Senator Stevens should step aside to allow a special election to give Alaskans a real choice of who will serve them in Congress.”
Should Stevens emerge the winner next Tuesday and then resign, guess who might get to appoint his temporary replacement?
Alaskans are already tired of the corruption, the Palin circus, the national media, Troopergate, and the overall embarrassment their leaders have brought to the state. Stevens winning the election, resigning, and giving Palin the opportunity to appoint his replacement may just well push sourdoughs over the edge.
As of today, polls show McCain and Palin are closing in on Obama and Biden, so Palin may still end up vice president. But in the weeks before she would take the oath, Palin would possibly have the chance to appoint a temporary Senate replacement until a special election could be held, provided Stevens promptly resigned. Changes to the law by voters and the Alaska Legislature several years ago left it murky on just how a governor might go about appointing a replacement, if at all.
On the other hand, if she returns to Alaska, Palin could pursue appointing herself. Another scenario would be Palin filling Stevens’ post with a Republican seat-warmer, then running for senator in the special election. (It’d already been speculated in political circles that Palin, the self-proclaimed maverick, might consider slipping into Stevens’ seat. But this was before the trial and her joining the presidential race.)
All of this reminds Alaskans about a controversial chapter in state history, one that helped Palin politically.
When Frank Murkowski left the Senate and won the governorship in 2002, he promptly appointed his own daughter, Lisa Murkowski, as his Senate replacement. Back then, the state law allowed Alaska’s governor to make appointments without holding special elections. (That’s how Ted Stevens landed in the Senate; Governor Wally Hickel appointed him in 1968.) When Palin ran for governor against Murkowski in the Republican primary in 2006, she criticized him for appointing his daughter, even handing out flyers that said, “Who’s Your Daddy?”
In 2004, Alaskans voted to change the law, calling for a special election. The Alaska Legislature also passed a law requiring a special election. The laws conflict, however, over whether the governor is allowed to appoint a temporary replacement.
Given all of this, it seems there’s still wiggle room within the law for Palin to plot a course, should the stars suddenly align–as they so often do for Sarah Palin.