Tea party activists are pushing for Sarah Palin to run for the Senate, but Republican leaders remain lukewarm to the idea of encouraging a return by the former vice presidential nominee to the national stage.
According to The Hill
, tea party supporters are running a "Draft Sarah" campaign and have already amassed more than 60,000 signatures on a petition calling for the former Alaska governor to run. They have been buoyed by a recent Harper Polling survey which showed Palin running ahead of GOP candidate Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who plans to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Begich's bid for re-election next year.
"The Tea Party Leadership Fund has a broad audience of grass-roots conservative activists, and they feel very strongly that she's a champion of their values and would love to see her run, and we're doing everything we can to see her run," said Dan Backer, treasurer of the group which commissioned the Harper Poll.
But GOP lawmakers in Washington question Palin's dedication to the state because she resigned as governor with 18 months left in her term. Others say she would not prevail in a general election match-up with Begich. A poll earlier this year found that he would likely beat Palin by a margin of 47 percent to 40 percent.
"I think there are a lot of outside interests that would like to see Sarah Palin in some form of elected office. Most in Alaska recognize our former governor is really not involved in or engaged in the state anymore, that she's moved to other interests," said Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has been critical of Palin in the past. "In order for you to represent the state of Alaska, you've got to be in the state."
But the GOP leadership acknowledges that Palin could likely raise the money needed to make herself a force in the race. Sen. Jerry Moran, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that while he has not reached out to Palin to gauge her interest in a Senate bid, he believes she could quickly raise millions of dollars for the race, The Hill reported.
"Sarah Palin has a wide following [and] national fundraising supporters," Moran said.
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