Feb. 11, 1964 — Born in Sandpoint, Idaho.

1982 — Graduated from Wasilla High School in Wasilla, Alaska.

1987 — Graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Idaho.

August 29, 1988 — Married Todd Palin, whom she would have five children with.

1992-1996 — Entered public life, serving two terms on the Wasilla City Council.

1996-2002 — Elected mayor of Wasilla City, Alaska, for two terms until term limits forced her from office.

2002 — Lost her first statewide campaign for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.

2002 — Frank Murkowski left the Senate to become governor and named Palin chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

2003 — Split with the party leaders by battling Randy Ruedrich, the head of Alaska's Republican Party.

2006 — Upset then-Gov. Murkowski in the Republican primary, then defeated former two-term Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat, in the general election.

2007 — Pressured lawmakers to get the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act passed, to build a natural gas pipeline to deliver 35 trillion cubic feet of North Slope natural gas to market.

Aug. 29, 2008 — Chosen as Sen. John McCain's vice-presidential running mate in the 2008 election.

Sarah Heath Palin (IPA: /ˈpeɪlɨn/; born February 11, 1964) is the governor of the U.S. state of Alaska. She is the first female governor of Alaska, its youngest, and is the first governor born after Alaska achieved statehood. She was elected by first defeating the incumbent Republican governor in the Republican primary, then a former Democratic Alaskan Governor in the general election. Governor Palin is also the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for Vice President of the United States in the 2008 presidential election.
Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

Governor Sarah Palin

Assumed office 
December 4, 2006
Lieutenant Sean Parnell
Preceded by Frank Murkowski

In office
1996 – 2002
Preceded by John Stein
Succeeded by Dianne Keller

Born February 11 1964 ( 1964-02-11) (age 44)
Sandpoint, Idaho, United States
Political party Republican
Spouse Todd Palin (m. 1988)
Residence Wasilla, Alaska
Alma mater University of Idaho
Profession Journalist / Politician
Religion Christian: Assemblies of God[1]

Sarah Heath Palin (IPA: /ˈpeɪlɨn/; born February 11, 1964) is the governor of the U.S. state of Alaska. She is the first female governor of Alaska, its youngest, and is the first governor born after Alaska achieved statehood. She was elected by first defeating the incumbent Republican governor in the Republican primary, then a former Democratic Alaskan Governor in the general election. Governor Palin is also the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for Vice President of the United States in the 2008 presidential election.



Early life

Palin was born Sarah Louise Heath in Sandpoint, Idaho, the daughter of Sarah (née Sheeran), a school secretary, and Charles R. Heath, a science teacher and track coach.[2][3] She has English, Irish, and German ancestry.[2] Her family moved to Alaska when she was an infant.[3] She and her father would sometimes wake at 3 a.m. to hunt moose before school, and the family regularly ran 5 km and 10 km races.[3]

At Wasilla High School in Wasilla, Alaska, Palin was the head of the school Fellowship of Christian Athletes.[3] She was the point guard and captain for the basketball team. She helped the team win the Alaska small-school championship in 1982, hitting a critical free throw in the last seconds, despite a stress fracture in her ankle.[3] She earned the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" because of her intense play,[3] and was the leader of team prayer before games.[3]

In 1984, Palin won the Miss Wasilla beauty contest, then finished second in the Miss Alaska pageant,[4] which won her a college scholarship.[3] In the Wasilla pageant, she played the flute and also won Miss Congeniality.[5][6]

Palin holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Idaho, where she also minored in political science.[7] She married Todd Palin, her boyfriend since high school, on August 29, 1988. She then briefly worked as a sports reporter for local Anchorage television stations while also working as a commercial fisherwoman with her husband.[3]

Pre-gubernatorial political experience

Palin served two terms on the Wasilla City Council from 1992 to 1996. In 1996, she challenged and defeated incumbent mayor, John Stein, criticizing wasteful spending and high taxes.[3] The ex-mayor and sheriff tried to organize a recall campaign, but failed.[3] Palin followed through on her campaign promises to reduce her own salary, and to reduce property taxes by 60 percent.[3] She ran for reelection against Stein in 1999, winning by an even larger margin.[3][8] Palin was also elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.[9]

In 2002, Palin made an unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor, coming in second to Loren Leman in a five-way race in the Republican primary. After Frank Murkowski resigned from his long-held U.S. Senate seat in mid-term to become governor, Palin interviewed to be his possible successor.[citation needed] Murkowski appointed his daughter, then-Alaska State Representative Lisa Murkowski.[3]

Governor Murkowski appointed Palin Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission,[10] where she served from 2003 to 2004 until resigning in protest over what she called the "lack of ethics" of fellow Alaskan Republican leaders, who ignored her whistleblowing complaints of legal violations and conflicts of interest.[11][3] After she resigned, she exposed the state Republican Party's chairman, Randy Ruedrich, one of her fellow Oil & Gas commissioners, who was accused of doing work for the party on public time, and supplying a lobbyist with a sensitive e-mail.[12] Palin filed formal complaints against both Ruedrich and former Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes, who both resigned; Ruedrich paid a record $12,000 fine.[3]


Running on a clean-government campaign in 2006, Palin upset then-Governor Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary.[3] In August, she declared that education, public safety, and transportation would be three cornerstones of her administration.[13] Despite the lack of support from party leaders[citation needed] and being outspent by her Democratic opponent, she won the gubernatorial election in November, defeating former Governor Tony Knowles 48.3% to 40.9%.[3]

Palin visits a wounded soldier in Landstuhl, Germany, July 2007
Palin visits a wounded soldier in Landstuhl, Germany, July 2007

Palin became Alaska's first woman governor and, at 42, the youngest in Alaskan history. Palin was also the first Alaskan governor born after Alaska achieved U.S. statehood and the first not to be inaugurated in Juneau, instead choosing to hold her inauguration ceremony in Fairbanks. She took office on December 4, 2006.

Highlights of Palin's tenure as Governor include a successful push for an ethics bill, and also shelving pork-barrel projects supported by fellow Republicans. Though she initially expressed support for the Gravina Island Bridge project,[14] once it had become a nationwide symbol of wasteful earmark spending and federal funding was lost, Palin decided against filling the $320 million gap with state money.[15][16] "Alaska needs to be self-sufficient, she says, instead of relying heavily on 'federal dollars,' as the state does today."[17]

She has challenged the state's Republican leaders, helping to launch a campaign by Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell to unseat U.S. Congressman Don Young[18] and publicly challenging Senator Ted Stevens to come clean about the federal investigation into his financial dealings.[15]

Palin frequently had an approval rating above 90% in 2007.[17] A poll published by Hays Research on July 28, 2008 showed Palin's approval rating at 80%,[19] while another Ivan Moore poll showed it at 76%, a drop which the pollsters attributed to the controversial firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.[20]

Energy and environment

Palin has strongly promoted oil resource development in Alaska, but also helped pass a tax increase on oil company profits.[15][17] Palin has announced plans to create a new sub-cabinet group of advisors to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions within Alaska.[21]

Shortly after taking office, Palin rescinded 35 appointments made by Murkowski in the last hours of his administration, including that of his former chief of staff James "Jim" Clark to the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority.[22][23] Clark later pleaded guilty to conspiring with a defunct oil-field-services company to channel money into Frank Murkowski's re-election campaign.[24]

In March 2007, Palin presented the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) as the new legal vehicle for building a natural gas pipeline from the state's North Slope.[25] This negated a deal by the previous governor to grant the contract to a coalition including BP (her husband's seasonal employer). Only one legislator, Representative Ralph Samuels, voted against the measure,[26] and in June Palin signed it into law.[27][28] On January 5, 2008, Palin announced that a Canadian company, TransCanada Corp., was the sole AGIA-compliant applicant.[29][30] In August 2008, Palin signed a bill into law giving the state of Alaska authority to award TransCanada Pipelines a license to build and operate the $26-billion-dollar pipeline to ship natural gas from the North Slope to the Lower 48, through Canada.[31]

In response to high oil and gas prices, and the resulting state government budget surplus, Palin proposed giving Alaskans $100-a-month energy debit cards. She also proposed providing grants to electrical utilities so that they would reduce customers' rates.[32] She subsequently dropped the debit card proposal, and in its place she proposed to send Alaskans $1,200 directly and eliminate the gas tax.[33]

In May 2008, Palin objected to the decision of Dirk Kempthorne, the Republican United States Secretary of the Interior, to list polar bears as an endangered species. She threatened a lawsuit to stop the listing amid fears that it would hurt oil and gas development in the bears' habitat off Alaska's northern and northwestern coasts. She also called unreliable the climate-change models cited by Kempthorne and environmentalists that predict melting of Arctic ice and has asserted that her administration believes listing them as an endangered species is premature and not the appropriate management tool for their welfare at this time..[34]

Social issues

Palin in Kuwait, 2007
Palin in Kuwait, 2007

Palin is pro-life and a prominent member of Feminists for Life.[35][36][37] A 2006 article in the Anchroage Daily News refers to her as "pro-contraception," but does not go into detail on the subject.[38] While running for Governor of Alaska, Palin advocated the teaching of both creationism and evolution in public schools;[39] but the next day, she backpeddled and said, "creationism doesn't have to be part of the curriculum" and that she would not use "religion as a litmus test, or anybody's personal opinion on evolution or creationism" as criteria for selection to the school board.[39]

She opposes same-sex marriage, but she has stated that she has gay friends.[13] Palin complied with an Alaskan state Supreme Court order and signed an implementation of same-sex benefits into law under protest, stating that legal options to avoid doing so had run out.[40][41] She supported a non-binding referendum for a constitutional amendment to deny benefits to homosexual couples.[42] Alaska was one of the first U.S. states to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage, in 1998, along with Hawaii.[43] Palin has stated that she supported the 1998 constitutional amendment.[13]

Palin's first veto was used to block legislation that would have barred the state from granting benefits to the partners of gay state employees. In effect, her veto granted State of Alaska benefits to same-sex couples. The veto occurred after Palin consulted with Alaska's attorney general on the constitutionality of the legislation.[41]


In the first days of her administration, Palin followed through on a campaign promise to sell the Westwind II jet purchased (on a state government credit account) by the Murkowski administration. The state placed the jet for sale on eBay three times. In August 2007, the jet was sold for $2.1 million.[44]

Shortly after becoming governor, Palin cancelled a contract for the construction of an 11-mile (18-kilometer) gravel road outside Juneau to a mine. This reversed a decision made in the closing days of the Murkowski Administration.[45]

In June 2007, Palin signed into law a $6.6 billion operating budget—the largest in Alaska's history.[46] At the same time, she used her veto power to make the second-largest cuts of the construction budget in state history. The $237 million in cuts represented over 300 local projects, and reduced the construction budget to nearly $1.6 billion.[47]

When on June 6, 2007, the Alaska Creamery Board recommended closing Matanuska Maid Dairy, an unprofitable state-owned business, Palin objected, citing concern for the impact on dairy farmers and the fact that the dairy had just received $600,000 in state money. When Palin found out that the Board of Agriculture and Conservation appoints Creamery Board members, she replaced the entire membership of the Board of Agriculture and Conservation.[17][48] The new board reversed the decision to close the dairy, but later in 2007, with Palin's support, the unprofitable business was put up for sale. There were no offers in December 2007, when the minimum bid was set at $3.35 million,[49][50] and the dairy was closed that month. In August 2008, the Anchorage plant was purchased for $1.5 million, the new minimum bid; the purchaser plans to convert it into heated storage units.[51]

Public Safety Commissioner dismissal

Palin at Alaska Airmen's Trade Show in Anchorage, Alaska (2008-05-10)
Palin at Alaska Airmen's Trade Show in Anchorage, Alaska (2008-05-10)

On July 11, 2008, Palin dismissed Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan for not adequately filling state trooper vacancies, and because he "did not turn out to be a team player on budgeting issues."[52] She instead offered him a position as executive director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which he turned down.[53][54] Her power to fire him is not in dispute, but Monegan alleged that his dismissal may have been an abuse of power tied to his reluctance to fire Palin's former brother-in-law, Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten, who had been involved in a divorce and child custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly McCann.[55]

Palin replaced Monegan with Chuck Kopp.[56]Palin knew that Kopp had allegedly sexually harassed an employee, but thought the claims had not been further substantiated and did not know that he had been removed from supervision of the employee while he was investigated and received a letter of reprimand.[57][58]

Palin said that her dismissal of Monegan was unrelated to the fact that he had not fired Wooten. Palin said that members of her staff had made contact with public safety officials regarding the trooper, though she said that her staff's contacts with the commission were not directed by her and she had little knowledge of them. She also took disciplinary action against one member of her staff who had mentioned her and Wooten's family connection to Monegan's staff.[59] Palin replaced Monegan with Chuck Kopp, who had allegedly sexually harassed an employee.[60][61]

In August 2008, the Alaska Legislature hired Steve Branchflower to investigate Palin and her staff for possible abuse of power surrounding the dismissal.[62] Democratic State Senator Hollis French, who is overseeing the investigation, says that the Palin administration has been cooperating and that subpoenas are unnecessary.[63]


2008 vice-presidential candidacy

See also: Republican Party (United States) vice presidential candidates, 2008

On August 29, 2008, Palin was announced as presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain's vice-presidential candidate, or running mate.[64] Palin's selection surprised many Republican officials, several of whom had speculated about other candidates[65][66] such as Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, United States Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge.[67] Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, previously considered the frontrunners for the position, reportedly 'feel manipulated' over the surprise announcement for being 'used as decoys.' [68]A month previously, Palin had said:

"[A]s for that V.P. talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the V.P. does every day? I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that V.P. slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question."[69]

Palin is considered to have similar policy positions to John McCain in most respects. One exception is drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), which Palin strongly supports and McCain has opposed.[70] She has supported aspects of Democratic nominee Barack Obama's energy plan, although she opposes his proposal for a windfall profits tax on oil companies, while she still believes in taxing them.[71][15][17]

A major consideration in Palin's selection was her appeal to former Hillary Clinton supporters in the contentious Democratic primary.[72] Palin, when asked about Senator Clinton's complaints regarding her coverage by the press, said "that doesn't do us any good, women in politics, women in general, wanting to progress this country...when I hear a statement like that from from any woman, I think that there is a perceived whine."[73]

Palin is the second U.S. woman to run on a major party ticket, after Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee of former vice-president Walter Mondale in 1984.[64]

Family and personal life

Palin's husband, Todd Palin,[74] works for the energy corporation BP at an oil field on Alaska's North Slope[75] and works as a fisherman in his hometown in the summers. Todd is a champion snowmobiler, winning the 2,000-mile (3,200 km) "Iron Dog" race four times.[3] Todd is one-eighth Yup'ik. The two eloped shortly after Palin graduated from college; when they learned they needed witnesses for the civil ceremony, they recruited two residents from the old-age home down the street.[3] The Palin family lives in Wasilla, about 40 miles (64 km) north of Anchorage.

On September 11, 2007, the Palins' then eighteen-year-old son Track, eldest of five, joined the Army.[76] He now serves in an infantry brigade and will be deployed to Iraq on September 11, 2008.[77] She also has three daughters: Bristol, Willow and Pipe.[9]

On April 18, 2008, while in office as governor, Palin gave birth to her second son and fifth child, Trig Paxson Van Palin, who prenatal genetic testing showed would have Down syndrome.[78] She returned to the office three days after giving birth.[15] Her decision to have the baby was applauded by the pro-life community.[79][80]

Details of Palin's personal life have contributed to her political image. She hunts, eats moose hamburger, ice fishes, rides snowmobiles, and owns a float plane.[17][81] Palin holds a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association. She admits that she used marijuana at a time when the state had legalized possession of small amounts (though possession was still illegal under federal law). She says that she did not like it and does not smoke it now.[13] In December 2007, Palin posed for a photo spread in Vogue.[82]

Electoral history

Election results

2006 Gubernatorial Election, Alaska
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  Republican Sarah Palin 114,697 48.33 -7.6
  Democratic Tony Knowles 97,238 40.97 +0.3
  Independent Andrew Halcro 22,443 9.46 n/a
  Alaskan Independence Don Wright 1,285 0.54 -0.4
  Libertarian Billy Toien 682 0.29 -0.2
  Green David Massie 593 0.25 -1.0
  Write-ins   384 0.16 +0.1
Majority 17,459 7.36  
Turnout 238,307 51.1  
  Republican hold Swing 4.0  
Alaska Republican Gubernatorial Primary Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  Republican Sarah Palin 51,443 50.59 n/a
  Republican John Binkley 30,349 29.84 n/a
  Republican Frank Murkowski, Incumbent 19,412 19.09 n/a
  Republican Gerald Heikes 280 0.28 n/a
  Republican Merica Hlatcu 211 0.21 n/a
Majority 21,094 20.75 n/a
Turnout 101,695 n/a n/a
2002 race for Lieutenant Governor (primary)[83]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  Republican Loren Leman 21,076 29% n/a
  Republican Sarah Palin 19,114 27% n/a
  Republican Robin Taylor 16,053 22% n/a
  Republican Gail Phillips 13,804 19% n/a
  Republican Paul Wieler 1,777 2% n/a
1999 race for Mayor of Wasilla[84]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  n/a Sarah Palin 909 73% n/a
  n/a John Stein 292 24% n/a
  n/a Cliff Silvers 32 3% n/a


  1. ^ "Alaska Assemblies of God Newsletter" (PDF) (Summer, 2008). Retrieved on 2008-08-29. “along with Pastor Mike Rose of Juneau Christian Center, where Palin presently attends church when in Juneau”
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