Making good on her vow to push conservative anti-establishment candidates with "integrity and a steel spine," former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin backed two more U.S. Senate candidates running in contested Republican primaries on her Facebook page
On Thursday, Palin threw her support behind former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon in his special election bid to fill the unexpired term of outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn, who is retiring before his term ends in 2017.
She also supports Midland University President Ben Sasse, who is running in a four-way primary in Nebraska to succeed outgoing Sen. Mike Johanns, who is not seeking re-election.
Palin had earlier backed Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel in his tea party-supported race against six-time incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.
Palin said in a question-and-answer session with Newsmax
on Thursday that she is determined to increase the number of "common-sense conservative" candidates.
In Oklahoma, Shannon is trailing Rep. James Lankford in the polls, but the state's first African-American House speaker is hoping to parlay Palin's endorsement
into momentum-building buzz.
"She's the most visible, exciting figure in the conservative movement right now," Shannon, who received 2½ hours' notice of Palin's endorsement, told RealClearPolitics
"One of the things I appreciate about her is she's real, and that's what people identify with. We've got a lot of conservatives who say the right things and even do the right things, but we don't have a lot of conservatives who connect with people the way she does."
Palin said in her endorsement, "Tom Coburn leaves large conservative shoes to fill as he retires from the U.S. Senate. At 6'5" tall, T.W. Shannon is just the leader to fill them."
In Nebraska, Sasse began his campaign as an underdog, but has seen his anti-Washington message begin to resonate. Polls indicate that he is in a virtual dead-heat with one-time frontrunner Shane Osborn, the former state treasurer.
Palin said, "Ben has his cornhusker common sense and his lovely wife Melissa and their three kids to remind him of what's important.
"Melissa is a fellow 'hockey mom' to both of Ben's daughters who play hockey as the only girls on the boy teams. They'll be able to remind their papa to 'Fight like a girl!' in defense of We the People."
Sasse has also received backing from Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. "It feels like Gov. Palin and Paul Ryan are about the two most popular politicians on the ground in our state," Sasse said of the last two Republican vice-presidential nominees. "We're incredibly grateful that Gov. Palin has agreed to join our project."
In Mississippi, McDaniel faces Cochran in a June 3 primary. Recent polls have shown
him pulling within striking distance of the second-most-senior Republican in the Senate.
Within hours of receiving Palin's support, McDaniel said the backing of the former governor was "overwhelmingly positive," and that he anticipated an immediate increase in fundraising.
"People in this state recognize that Sarah's been a Republican leader and conservative leader for years," McDaniel said. "The people of Mississippi have a lot in common with her and her belief system."
During midterm elections four years ago, Palin was the most coveted endorsee in Republican primaries, but received mixed results. While she helped springboard the careers of Republicans governors such as South Carolina's Nikki Haley and New Mexico's Susana Martinez, she was also blamed for costing the GOP victories in the Nevada and Delaware Senate races by backing Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell.
But Palin remains undeterred. She told Newsmax she will continue to endorse people she viewed as having "Courage, integrity, common sense, discipline, fiscal restraint — and a firm grounding in the time-tested truths that have made our nation exceptional," the qualities she believes make for a strong candidate.
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