Sarah's Shocker

Sarah Palin continues to surprise.
Gov. Sarah Palin announced today that she will resign in a few weeks. Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell will take over at the Governor's Picnic in Fairbanks on July 26.
Palin says she first decided not to run for reelection.
"Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional 'Lame Duck' status in this particular climate would just be another dose of 'politics as usual,' something I campaigned against and will always oppose."
Any thoughts on why leaving her seat after less than three years would be a good idea?
Republican strategist Tony Blankley said that it makes sense for Palin to resign as governor if she is seeking higher office. "This is going to be a pretty tough time for incumbents the next couple of years in America with everything going to tell and this may be a pretty good time not to be in office," he said.
He also suggests that being tied to Alaska makes it hard to seek national office with the travel distances involved. Here are some other thoughts, from Reuters.
Having maintained her popularity at home in Alaska, why would she quit now? There are several possibilities: * She frees herself from the constraints of daily governing so she can spend all her time pursuing national office. This would put her on a level playing field with potential Republican presidential primary opponents Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, and Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Another potential rival, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, also recently announced he would not seek re-election. Conversely, Palin's decision could diminish a selling point -- the fact that she has executive experience and knows how to run a state. * She can make some money. Leaving her job would allow Palin to take a job in the private sector or take advantage of her popularity to bring in cash as a public speaker, author or talk-show host, possibly still making a run for national office. * Palin could use the time to run for the U.S. Senate for Sen. Lisa Murkowski's seat in November 2010. Palin could use that job as a springboard for a presidential race. * Palin can add to her credentials as a "maverick," something both she and McCain emphasized during the 2008 campaign. Palin said she wanted to put Alaska first. She could use her decision to step down as evidence that she would not seek higher office while governor and so do harm to her home state. * Palin may have grown tired of being a lightning rod for the American media and decided she wanted a break. The announcement was made late on a Friday before a U.S. holiday weekend -- an indication that she may have wanted to "bury" the news. * She fears a looming political problem, perhaps even a scandal, and wanted out of the limelight, before the news broke. "If there is any evidence that the decision was a result of political problems or looming scandals, she is done," said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history professor.
What makes the most sense to me? If she's not running from disaster - a political surprise as Governor, or a personal crisis - then this is about a run for the U.S. Senate, where Palin can calm her overwrought relationship with the national media and gain the gravitas to be a national candidate down the road. That would put her into the U.S. Senate in January 2011 - right when the presidential primary season starts - meaning that she'd be looking at a run four years later for national office. It's a fair enough risk to gamble on President Obama gaining re-election, and to plan on being the candidate of Hope & Change in 2016.