Former Alaska Gov. and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin announced Friday that she is running for Congress in Alaska after former President Donald Trump encouraged her to enter the race.
The Republican seeks to fill the vacancy left by the death of Rep. Don Young last month at the age of 88. Young was Alaska’s sole representative for 49 years since first winning the seat in 1973.
Palin joins a whopping list of 50 other candidates who signed up for the state’s special U.S. House election, many of whom were still in line to file their intentions in the hours before Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline. The primary is set for June 11 and will be Alaska’s first statewide mail-in election.
Final results will be announced on June 26, and the special general election will be held by ranked-choice voting on August 16. Multiple state observers have been described as “stunned” by Palin’s entry.
In her Friday statement, Palin said, “Public service is calling, and I would be honored to represent the men and women of Alaska in Congress.” She noted that her first entry into politics was 30 years ago when she won a seat on the Wasilla city council.
Her meteoric rise included serving as chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, where Palin gained notoriety for fighting corruption at a time when many state lawmakers were under investigation for shady dealings with oil companies.
After becoming Alaska’s first female governor in 2006, she shot to national prominence when chosen by the late Sen. John McCain to be his running mate against then-Sen. Barack Obama. Their ticket lost, but Palin remained active in GOP circles.
She was prominent in the 2010 midterm elections that saw Republicans, powered by the Tea Party movement, swept back into the House majority. Palin was also among the first high-profile GOP members to endorse Donald Trump in his successful 2016 presidential run.
Recently Palin made headlines by requesting a new trial after losing her defamation suit against The New York Times. A 2017 editorial incorrectly linked her to an Arizona mass shooting that seriously injured congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
At 58 years old, Palin is poised to make a national splash as a House member from Alaska, and her candidacy is likely to draw the intense media scrutiny that surrounded her vice-presidential run. She will likely receive sharp criticism from the left over her populist stances, but she also likely chose the perfect year for a comeback.