Courting Carly
You may have come across this item today detailing the blowback that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is receiving on her Facebook page for endorsing former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina in the California Senate race, instead of another popular tea party-supported candidate. At least one analyst attributes the endorsement simply to Palin’s desire to pick a winner and to a shared set of policy preferences. You could also throw in a desire to promote other women candidates, and a thank you for all Fiorina did as a political surrogate for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. All of these factors probably played some role in Palin’s decision to endorse Fiorina over Chuck DeVore.
But, as I have written previously, for Palin to truly harness the grassroots power of the tea party movement, she needs continued access to powerful Republican institutional elites and the political infrastructure they control. Were Fiorina to win the U.S. Senate seat in California, she would be a U.S. Senator who is also an independently wealthy, ex-Fortune 500 CEO with strong ties to the business and Washington political communities.  This is the very definition of Republican institutional elite, and one who would owe Palin at least a small debt of gratitude for her support in the future.

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