... So that You may be kept informed

US: Sarah Palin resigns as Alaska governor

Sat Jul 4 13:49:31 EST 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, July 3 AFP - In a surprise move, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin says she is stepping down and will not seek re-election, fuelling swift speculation of a possible 2012 White House bid.

Palin, who was Republican John McCain's controversial running mate in his failed 2008 White House bid, said on Friday she would step aside as governor in "another few weeks" and be replaced by Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell at the governor's picnic in Fairbanks, Alaska on July 26.

Palin, 45, told a press conference at her lakefront home in Wasilla, Alaska, that she wanted to "take a stand and effect change, not just hit our head against the wall and waste valuable state time and money."

The first woman to campaign on a Republican presidential ticket and a former sports journalist who was known as "Sarah Barricuda" when she played high school basketball, Palin said it was "time to pass the ball for victory."

In leaving her post before the end of her first term, Palin will be able to travel across the country more freely and build up a national political team, clearing the way for a potential presidential bid of her own.

A June 2 CNN poll had Palin running neck-and-neck with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and ex-Arkansas governor Mick Huckabee in the top three favourites to head up the Republican 2012 ticket.

But shooting down any speculation her announcement was abrupt, Palin said: "Some are going to question the timing of this, and let me say this decision has been in the works for quite a while."

Since she had already decided not to run for re-election as governor in 2010 staying in power as a lame-duck official "would just be another dose of 'politics as usual,' something I campaigned against and will always oppose," she added.

Palin has only led the vast, oil-producing northwestern state since December 2006, when she became the youngest person ever to hold Alaska's governorship.

"I am determined to take the right path for Alaska," added Palin, "even though it is unconventional and it is not so comfortable."

As governor, Palin has earned approval ratings as high as 80 per cent, but her popularity dipped in the wake of a series of ethics complaints and her failed run with McCain.

The 2008 presidential race saw Palin ascend overnight from the obscure governor of Alaska to McCain's running mate and her party's popular, but polarising new cheerleader.

The ex-beauty queen, moose hunter and mother of five wooed conservative Americans by weaving together very traditional values and dazzling telegenics, energising the Republican Party's base to support McCain.

Palin drew massive Republican crowds but also fueled a backlash from Democrats and Independents against herself and McCain, a self-described "maverick."

While she has cast herself as an anti-corruption star, Palin was found to have violated state ethics rules governing public officials.

A state troopers union brought an ethics complaint against Palin, alleging she and other officials had disclosed confidential information on her former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, a fire state trooper, and systematically sought to fire him.

Earlier this week, the Anchorage Daily News reported that ethics complaint against the governor and other senior officials from her administration had cost the state personnel board nearly $US300,000 ($A379,360), the bulk of it from the so-called "Troopergate" investigation.

"Some Alaskans, it seems, maybe they don't mind wasting public dollars and state time but I do," said Palin.

"I cannot stand here as your governor and allow the millions of dollars and all that time go to waste just so I can hold the title of governor."

The governor, the Daily News said, has reportedly spent over $US600,000 ($A758,725) in personal legal bills to fight the accusations.

Despite a series of blunders in high-profile interviews during the presidential campaign, Palin retains star power in the battered Republican Party, still reeling from its major defeat by Democrat President Barack Obama in the November presidential elections.

Palin said she would rather "effect positive change outside government at this moment in time on another scale and actually make a differences for our priorities."

An ardent "pro-life" campaigner, Palin gave birth last year to her fifth child, Trig, a boy with Downs Syndrome. Her unwed teenage daughter, Bristol, also gave birth to a son, Tripp, last year.