NEW YORK -- Sarah Palin's decision to step down as Alaska governor was driven in part by her wish to help Republican candidates across the country, associates say.
But in New Jersey and Virginia, two states with competitive governors' races this year, the prospect of a visit from the party's 2008 vice presidential nominee has so far drawn a muted response from the GOP contenders there.
In Virginia, a historically conservative state where Barack Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 to win, Republican Bob McDonnell said Tuesday his campaign had had conversations with the Palin camp but stopped short of saying whether he wanted her help.
In New Jersey, where President Barack Obama trounced the McCain-Palin ticket by 15 percentage points last November, state Republican Chairman Jay Webber said he'd had no contact with Palin or her team about a campaign visit on behalf of GOP candidate Chris Christie.
The Virginia and New Jersey races are the only major statewide electoral contests in 2009, and strategists for both parties are studying them for clues as to whether the Republican Party can rebound from its devastating losses in the 2006 and 2008 elections.