Palin's a national star, but she's in trouble in Alaska

While she steps out on the larger political scene, at home the state legislature is in a virtual rebellion against the governor.

Published April 17, 2009 5:30PM (EDT)

When it comes to national politics, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's star is as bright as ever, at least with the Republican base. But at home, things are different, as her first legislative session since her run for the vice-presidency has been a series of fights and defeats.

The latest big setback for Palin was the legislature's rejection of her nominee for state attorney general, Wayne Ross. 26 Democrats joined nine Republicans in voting against Ross on Thursday, while 23 lawmakers (it was a joint session of the state House and Senate) voted to confirm him. It was the first time in Alaska history that the legislature has rejected a governor's appointment for an agency head, according to the New York Times. Ross had drawn fire for, among other things, having called gay people "degenerates" and allegedly defending men who rape their wives.

Also on Thursday, by a wide margin the legislature voted to reject Palin's nominee to fill an open seat on the seven-member state Board of Fisheries. And one of three people Palin had advanced as a possibility to fill an open state Seante seat withdrew his name -- the governor has fighting with Alaska Democrats over that position, as they have to confirm her choice, and she's ignored their list of suggestions.

There are other issues between Palin and the legislature as well -- as the Anchorage Daily News' Sean Cockerham quipped, "The antagonism between legislators and Gov. Sarah Palin doesn’t end." Cockerham reports that there's a lot of tension between the legislature and the Palin administration over her plans for an in-state oil pipeline, as her aides haven't been briefing legislators on it. Even Republicans are speaking out. "I’ve had a lot of friction with the governor this year on her lack of connection, frankly the appearance that she’s more concerned about her national ambitions than what’s going on in the state," Republican Rep. Mke Hawker told a Palin aide at a committee hearing Thursday night. At the same hearing, Republican Rep. Alan Austerman said, "Nobody from the (Palin) administration has been to my office at all…I see a number of different legislators all shaking their heads, same thing, nobody’s been in their office.”

Palin needs to turn this around, and fast -- as I noted earlier in the week, there are already some reports that the GOP establishment is worried that this situation doesn't bode well, and is souring on her and her prospects for 2012.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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