Palin Watch

So apparently Sarah Palin is actually considering running for the Senate in 2010. The problem? She’d have to unseat Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski in a primary battle, and Murkowski is digging in:

But Murkowski says a run against her would be fraught with risk. If Palin lost, her stock would drop just ahead of a potential 2012 presidential run. And if she won, she’d be a backbencher in a chamber that is dominated by seniority — and would have to begin her presidential campaign as soon as she took office.

“If she wants to be president, I don’t think the way to the presidency is a short stop in the United States Senate,” Murkowski said.

Now, this makes me think a couple of things.

1. Somewhere along the line, the idea sank in that Democrats should be worried about Palin because she was a really good politician. But everything she’s done since entering the national stage has actually shown her to be an amazingly bad politician. Yes she beat a Republican incumbent with Bush-like approval ratings and then won a general election in the kind of state that’s so dominated by Republicans that Don Young is going back to Congress and Ted Stevens barely lost a re-election campaign after 7 felony convictions, and I guess that’s something, it’s just not the sort of thing that really screams “unique political abilities.”

On the other hand, Palin agreed to a VP candidacy she clearly wasn’t ready for, and became a national punchline in the process. And now she’s considering taking on a Republican as a precursor, one presumes, to a run for the Republican Presidential nomination. Aside from the fact that that’s not generally seen as a good way to build up intraparty goodwill, it’s also a fool’s errand, as the Politico goes on to outline.

With Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, having just lost his seat, Dittman said GOP primary voters in Alaska would be wary of losing more Senate seniority by replacing Murkowski with Palin.

“My feeling is that Alaskans wouldn’t respond to that very well, especially Republicans, if she takes on Lisa and she starts seniority all over again,” Dittman said. “I think it would be tough for Sarah to do that and justify it.”

That argument is not lost on Murkowski, who points to her rising seniority in the Senate and her ascension to the top Republican spot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, replacing retiring Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.).

And that’s probably being subtle about it. Put simply, Murkowski was elected in 2004, and in the following 2 cycles Republicans lost a lot of Senate seats, thereby shooting Murkowski up the seniority ranks in the caucus. That’s a big deal anywhere, but it’s especially important in Alaska, where the state’s rugged individualist lifestyle depends on maintaining heavy federal subsidizing. There’s just no way the state GOP is going to line up to support someone who wants to unseat Murkowski in 2010, especially someone who wants to then run for President 2 years later. In other words, if Palin were to actually try this, she’d most likely not only suffer a weakening electoral defeat, she’d burn a hell of a lot of bridges with the kind of GOP insiders she would need to help her secure any 2012 nominations. Not the sort of thing good politicians normally do.

2. If nothing else, this highlights just how hard it’s going to be for Palin to stay in the national spotlight all the way up in Alaska. And that’s not good for her, because outside of a dramatic image makeover, by the time the summer of 2011 rolls around the iconic images of Palin really are going to be Tina Fey skits. And that doesn’t bode well for someone, even in a Republican primary.