‘I Just Think Sarah These Days Is Not a Person to Be Taken Seriously’

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In one sense, this is a perfect stage for a Sarah Palin comeback. Going from “The Masked Singer” and taping personalized videos on Cameo for $199 a pop to trying this particularly circuslike House race would appear to make all the sense in the world. Begich, a mainstream Republican who has been vacuuming up endorsements from Republicans in the state, comes from one of the most storied Democratic families in Alaska. He’s the grandson of the late Rep. Nick Begich Sr. and nephew of former Sen. Mark Begich. There’s the all-party primary and ranked-choice voting that will be employed in the election, which further scrambles anyone’s certainty. And then there’s Santa Claus.

“I do have name recognition,” Claus, a monk who is a democratic socialist and sits on the North Pole city council, told me.

Jim Minnery, executive director of the Alaska Family Council, called the race “a zoo, with Santa Claus thrown in.” David Pruhs, who has a radio show in Fairbanks and is running for that city’s mayor, predicted it will be a “spectacle.”

“It’s a cluster,” said Max Sumner, a Wasilla homebuilder who was surprised to see Palin herself in the elections office filing paperwork when he went to file his own on April 1. Sumner figured then that “my odds went down greatly, I’d say.” His brother, Jesse Sumner, a Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly member, also filed but later withdrew, saying he was “just playing a prank, really” for April Fool’s.

When I asked Jesse Sumner, who has endorsed Begich, about Palin, he said, “Uhhhh.”

I waited.

“I mean, I don’t know that I know anybody that’s thrilled about it,” he said. “But, I mean, it’s happening.”

And ever since Palin’s announcement, it has been all anybody with an ear for politics has been hearing in Alaska. Last week, after Palin announced her candidacy, Dan Fagan, the conservative talk radio show host in Anchorage, began his show with a chuckle, saying, “All eyes are on Alaska again.” On one hand, he said, Palin’s “got some grit.” But there was a big other hand.

“I think a lot of folks in Alaska are saying, ‘Oh, Lord, there’s always so much drama with her, you know, whether it’s her family in a brawl at a party in the front yard of a home, or you know, there’s the son beating up the dad, or I mean there’s just always something that’s going on that’s drama with them,” Fagan said on the air. “And it’s like ay-ay-ay, we’ve got to go through this again.”

He said, “We know [on] ‘Saturday Night Live,’ you’re going to have Santa Claus debating Sarah Palin. It’s going to happen, and it’s going to be, probably, funny.”

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