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Keeping Score: Sarah Palin's Winning Endorsements


In 2009 and 2010, Sarah Palin made more than two dozen candidate endorsements. While some, such as California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina made national headlines, others, such as Washington Congressional candidate John Koster did not. Most of Palin's endorsements were made by way of her Facebook page, yet made enormous differences in the associated campaigns. Of the 27 candidates Palin endorsed in 2009 and 2010, 22 of them earned victories. Some didn't need her help, but others did. If just half of her endorsees earn victories in November, Palin will find herself with some powerful allies in Congress come 2012.

1. Michele Bachmann for the Sixth Congressional District of Minnesota

Screen Capture: YouTube

Even without former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's endorsement, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann probably won't have much trouble holding on to her seat in Minnesota (a July poll has her running nine points ahead of her Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party candidate. Bachmann, who recently founded the Congressional Tea Party Caucus to give the movement a voice on Capitol Hill, is a popular lawmaker in her home state despite only serving two terms and embracing controversy. Still, it never hurts to have the coveted Palin nod.

2. Terry Branstad for Iowa Governor


On June 3, 2010, Palin made this announcement on her Facebook account, "Iowa, your great state’s motto is 'Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.' That motto will be well served by voting for Terry Branstad for governor next Tuesday!" On June 8, Branstad won the Republican nomination.

3. Saxby Chambliss for U.S. Senate in Georgia

Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images

Less than a month after the 2008 presidential election, the former Republican vice presidential candidate threw her support behind Chambliss. Chambliss won his runoff election on Dec. 2, and said Palin "allowed us to peak."

4. Chris Christie for New Jersey Governor (Special Election)

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just a few days before the 2009 New Jersey gubernatorial election, Palin got behind Christie in a big way, saying on her Facebook account, "Residents [in New Jersey] will be better off under an administration that understands the benefits that result when workers are allowed to keep more of what they earn. Watch New Jersey's economy come alive under new leadership that will put government back on the side of the people! Chris Christie promises this new leadership." Christie sailed to victory on Nov. 3.

5. Sean Duffy for the Seventh Congressional District of Wisconsin

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

The former MTV reality star successfully shed his 15-year-old "Real World" persona and was able to convince Wisconsin Republicans of his viability. Palin got behind him long before he won his Sept. 14 primary. In her words, "In this election year, we’ll see many daring Davids take on entrenched Goliaths. Just one of these many brave souls is a northern Wisconsin patriot named Sean Duffy. He’s running in Wisconsin’s 7th congressional district against a liberal Goliath who’s been in Congress over 40 years now and has the dubious distinction of being the author of the stimulus bill." Could Duffy have won without Palin's backing? Maybe, but it was Palin who first made voters take notice of him.

6. Tom Emmer for Minnesota Governor

Screen Capture: YouTube.com

The lead in the Minneapolis/St. Paul News the Monday following Emmer's April 30 victory read, "Sarah Palin picked a winner." Whether Palin was simply reflecting the conservative values of Minnesota voters or not, it was clear by now that this Alaska "Hockey Mom" carries considerable power in politically conservative circles. Palin's support of the man she dubbed a "patriotic fiscally conservative 'hockey dad'" came just a few days before the election, yet changed the face of the entire campaign.

7. Mary Fallin for Oklahoma Governor

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Palin offered her support for Fallin just nine days before the former Congresswoman and lieutenant governor won a four-way race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Fallin earned Palin's endorsement because of her pro-life, fiscal conservative positions and because Palin believed Fallin "understands the complexities of our domestic energy policy and has been a consistent voice for energy independence." Palin's endorsement riled Fallin's chief competitor in the primary, state Sen. Randy Brogdon, who had also taken up the moniker of "fiscal conservative." His bid to paint Palin and Fallin as "establishment" Republicans ultimately failed, however, and Fallin sailed to a significant and convincing victory.

8. Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate in California

David McNew/Getty Images

Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, had an unlimited supply of money at her disposal heading into the June 8 primary election in 2010, but many political observers believe that it was Palin's endorsement that settled the issue for California Republicans. Before Palin's endorsement, Fiornia had a very tough primary battle with Chuck DeVore, a Tea Party-backed California Assemblyman and former Rep. Tom Campbell, who many believed would give Fiorina her toughest competition for the nomination. Indeed, Fiorina initially fell behind Campbell after he joined the race. Palin's endorsement of Fiorina as a "common-sense conservative" may very well have cinched the election for her.

9. Paul Gosar for the First Congressional District of Arizona

Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images

Palin endorsed Dr. Gosar on July 19, a full month ahead of his primary battle and it turned the election around for him. Gosar, who just a year earlier had been a simple Flagstaff dentist with no political name recognition, became a front-runner after Palin gave him her Facebook nod. Gosar sailed to an easy win over a field of highly qualified Republicans. Palin endorsed Gosar, she said, because "Paul shares our belief that the federal government’s reckless spending is putting us on a dangerous path towards insolvency – and he’s determined to do something about that." Gosar will face Democratic incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick on Nov. 2.

10. Nikki Haley for South Carolina Governor

Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images

State Rep. Nikki Haley's entry into the notoriously rough state-wide South Carolina political realm was met with brutal force, including racial slurs from other state lawmakers (Haley is a former Sikh) and accusations of extra-marital affairs from former campaign aides. With Palin's help, however, Haley not only fended off the tough field of competitors, she actually won the primary twice. Although she easily outdistanced her opponents in the initial primary election, her victory wasn't by a wide enough margin to avoid a runoff election. With Palin's continued help, however, Haley emerged as the winner once and for all on June 22.

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