There's No Place Like Home
Every four years during the presidential primaries, we hear about how desperate states are to get the kind of national attention that goes along with playing a high-profile role in the presidential selection process. Some new data suggest, however, that the one caveat to this predictable behavior is when that role involves a state’s homegrown political talent. For Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, this means that a majority of his state’s voters do not approve of his busy schedule of invisible primary activities in places like New Hampshire and Iowa. For former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, it means that her fellow Alaskans would prefer former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee in 2012.
I remember a similar phenomenon in late 2002, when Howard Dean was the sitting governor of Vermont, and was first exploring a potential bid for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. I recall hearing a great deal of criticism from within the state about his busy national travel schedule and frequent absences from Montpelier. Granted, some of this kind of local political pushback is likely the work of partisan opponents within a particular state, and a longstanding familiarity with a politician can also change voter perspective over time.
But this phenomenon of local disapproval of presidential ambition clearly has something to do with the setting of in-state priorities by chief executives, especially with sitting governors at the end of their final term in office, like Pawlenty and Dean. In Palin’s case, she is already a private citizen, having resigned her office in July 2009. But the continued impact of her 2008 vice presidential run and newfound national celebrity seems to be playing out as the same sort of mixed bag for her fellow Alaskans.
Note: Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. I’ll see you back here on Tuesday for the final sprint to our state primaries. -Dean

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