Palin to back Murkowski in 2010

Sean Cockerham | Tribune Media Services

JUNEAU -- Gov. Sarah Palin plans to raise money for the re-election campaign of Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and hopes to end speculation she might challenge Murkowski in the primary for the U.S. Senate next year.

"The governor has no intention of running for the senator's seat in 2010," Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton said Tuesday. "(Palin) thinks the senator is doing a great job and that's why she's looking forward to hosting a fundraiser for her."

Stapleton said details won't be set until after Alaska's legislative session ends on April 19. She said there would be at least one fundraiser, likely in the next couple of months.

"I know it is a priority for the governor to have a fundraiser in the state of Alaska" Stapleton said.

"Obviously you are working with the schedules of two very busy women and so it will be when the senator is in Alaska, and it works for both of their schedules."

A Murkowski aide said the senator is looking forward to it.

"We are obviously very appreciative Gov. Palin has decided to have a fundraiser for Sen. Murkowski," said Mary Hughes, chief administrator for the Murkowski campaign.

Stapleton said talk that Palin might challenge Murkowski in next year's Republican primary is "just something that's been drummed up by the media."

National coverage of Murkowski has repeatedly brought up the possibility that Palin might challenge Murkowski for the U.S. Senate.

Just one example is a story from last month by the Associated Press asserting that "even with her climb to power, Murkowski is dogged by an unspoken rivalry with Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice presidential nominee in 2008 who defeated Murkowski's father in a hard-fought primary in 2006. Murkowski is up for re-election in 2010, and pundits from Washington to Alaska have focused on a possible primary challenge by Palin, a possible presidential contender in 2012."

Fueling the speculation is the fact that Palin's term as governor is up in 2010, and she hasn't said if she plans to run for re-election.

Anchorage pollster and political consultant Ivan Moore said this should put Murkowski-Palin talk to rest. "I can't imagine anyone raising money for someone they are going to turn around and run against," he said.

If Palin is interested in the U.S. Senate, Moore said, a more plausible scenario would be her running for governor in 2010, serving a second term, and then challenging Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich when his term is up in 2014.