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In Alaska, Pride, Disbelief At Palin VP Pick
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In Alaska, Pride, Disbelief At Palin VP Pick

Election 2008


In Sarah Palin's home state of Alaska, reaction to her historic place on the Republican ticket has ranged from pride to disbelief. John Ryan of station KTOO in Juneau reports.

JOHN RYAN: With a smaller population than many American cities, Alaska is not a major force in presidential politics. But Sarah Palin has been enjoying approval ratings that most politicians can only dream of: 80 percent in the latest statewide survey.

Governor Palin and Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell are now both running for federal office. Election officials are still counting ballots in Parnell's tight primary race against incumbent Don Young for Alaska's sole seat in Congress. That makes some people nervous.

Out in western Alaska, Democratic legislator Mary Nelson represents the Yupik Eskimo community of Bethel. She says she has mixed feelings about the Palin nomination.

Ms. MARY NELSON (Democrat, Alaska, State Representative): She's had two years in the governor's office. Does that make her qualified to be a president? And, you know, while it's exciting to think we could have a woman for a president, an Alaskan woman as president, it's also concerning that she does not have years of experience.

RYAN: In Juneau, many locals resent Palin for spending much of her term away from the capital city. Artist Paul Gardineer(ph) says the first-term governor is in over her head.

Mr. PAUL GARDINEER (Artist): She's done a fine job as governor but this is the big league and, you know, I can't see her sitting down at the table with Putin.

RYAN: But many Alaskans say the self-described hockey mom would make a good vice president, despite her inexperience. In the fishing town of Kodiak, stay-at-home mom Andrea Anderson(ph) says choosing Palin was a brilliant move on John McCain's part.

Ms. ANDREA ANDERSON (Stay-At-Home Mom): She's young, she's an outsider, she's a woman, she seems to be a great speaker, very charismatic, and I think she'll do well for him.

Mr. ALEX LANG (Captain, Air National Guard): I think people will rise to the occasion.

RYAN: That's Air National Guard Captain Alex Lang of Anchorage. He isn't concerned about Palin's lack of national experience. Juneau mailman Mark Pietrowski(ph) says he welcomes the attention that America's northernmost state has already received with the Palin announcement.

Mr. MARK PIETROWSKI (Mailman): A lot of people will recognize that we are a state of the United States, not just hidden up here in a little bitty island next to Hawaii on the map when they do the weather report.

RYAN: Alaskans of various political stripes hope Palin's nomination will bring more attention to the energy issues that are of special concern here in America's leading oil-producing state.

For NPR News, I'm John Ryan in Juneau, Alaska.

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