In the wake of Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R) surprise announcement that she will resign at the end of the month, the once-tenuous position of veteran Rep. Don Young (R) seems to have stabilized — at least for now.
Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who came within a hair of ousting Young in the GOP primary last year, will become governor, and he will have the benefit of incumbency as he seeks a full four-year term in 2010. And for the present, other potential challengers to Young seem to have their eyes trained on a gubernatorial run, despite the fact that they’d be running against an incumbent.
Former state Speaker John Harris (R) plans to announce his candidacy for governor in a couple of weeks, and at least half a dozen other Republicans are eyeing the race. One media outlet suggested Monday that former Sen. Ted Stevens (R), who lost his re-election bid last fall just days after being convicted in a corruption trial — a verdict that has since been reversed — could run for governor next year, when he will be 86 years old.
More significantly for the House contest, former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz (D), who came close to defeating Young in November, still seems intent on running for governor in 2010. Another potentially strong Democratic House contender, former state Sen. Hollis French, has told Alaska media that he too is exploring a gubernatorial bid.
For now, no strong Democrat has come forward to challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), who is also up for re-election in 2010, and none seems likely to do so. Some pundits believe there is an outside chance that Palin will decide to run against Murkowski in a Republican primary. Palin, after all, defeated the Senator’s father in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary, and Lisa Murkowski harshly criticized Palin’s decision to resign, accusing her of abandoning the state.