It can sometimes take Donald Trump a little while to throw his weight behind a congressional candidate. It only took him two days to endorse Sarah Palin to replace longtime Alaska Rep. Don Young, who died last month. The former vice presidential candidate and early Trump supporter announced on Friday that she will be running to fill the seat. The former president announced on Sunday that he wants her to win. “Sarah shocked many when she endorsed me very early in 2016, and we won big,” Trump wrote in a statement. “Now, it’s my turn!”
Trump couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get in a dig against John McCain, the late senator who turned the 2008 presidential race into a circus when he tapped Palin, then Alaska’s governor, as his running mate. “Sarah lifted the McCain presidential campaign out of the dumps despite the fact that she had to endure some very evil, stupid, and jealous people within the campaign itself,” Trump added. “They were out to destroy her, but she didn’t let that happen.”
Trump has long resented McCain, who criticized him during the 2016 presidential campaign and then voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act, dooming Trump’s plan to sink President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. McCain lifted Palin out of obscurity in an effort to boost his chances at the White House. McCain said he regretted adding Palin to the ticket, writing that his “gut told me to ignore” advice to bring her on board and that he wishes he had.
Despite Trump’s claim that Palin lifted McCain’s campaign “out of the dumps,” The Washington Post notes that a Stanford University study found that Palin cost McCain around two million votes.
Palin has been out of politics since her turn as Alaska’s governor, but she’s maintained a presence across conservative media, and as a vocal supporter of right-wing candidates — including Trump in 2016. She made clear in announcing her candidacy on Friday that she’ll have no problem toeing the MAGA line should she make it to Washington, bashing the “radical left” and railing against “open borders.” Palin also tried to sue The New York Times for libel, but a jury rejected the case in February. She made headlines in the days surrounding the trial for violating New York City’s Covid-19 restrictions by dining out while unvaccinated and then dining out again after having tested positive.
It’s no wonder Trump was so quick to endorse her.
The primary to serve as Alaska’s lone House representative will take place on June 11. The top four finishers will appear on a ranked-choice ballot in August.
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