Parnell Won’t Switch to Alaska Senate Race

Posted July 31, 2008 at 4:45pm

Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (R) has no intention of running for Senate — and he doesn’t expect his boss, Gov. Sarah Palin (R), to run in place of Sen. Ted Stevens (R), who has been indicted on seven counts and is awaiting trial.

“From my perspective, [a Senate bid is] not something that I’m considering, nor would I consider,” Parnell said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

Parnell is challenging Rep. Don Young in the Aug. 26 GOP primary.

Stevens faces six little-known Republicans in his primary on the 26th. Assuming he wins that primary, under Alaska election law Stevens could remove himself from the ballot up until Sept. 17 — though he has vowed to remain in the race. It would then be up to the state party to appoint a replacement for the general election. Some Republicans have talked up Palin, Parnell and others as possible substitutes.

Palin was elected to office on a reform platform in 2006 and has remained popular since. However, Parnell said Palin is not interested in coming to Washington, D.C., though he would support her however she wants to serve the state.

“She’s been clear about [keeping her governorship] with me and others that she was elected to do that and takes her job very seriously,” Parnell said. “On the other hand, I would certainly join other Alaskans in helping her serve wherever she can on behalf of Alaskans.”

The winner of the House Republican primary featuring Young, Parnell and state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux will face the Democratic nominee, which will be either former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz or 2006 nominee Diane Benson. Berkowitz is favored to win the Democratic contest.

In the meantime, Democrats have criticized Parnell for not running a more visible campaign. That might change soon, given that Parnell went up on television last week and started running his second advertisement this week.

But according to Parnell, he has only one paid staffer. He said major items on his pre-primary expenditure report will include a communications firm, media firm and a field coordination consultant. Parnell had raised $292,000 for his campaign as of the end of June.

“It’s definitely a tight ship in the sense that I take very seriously the responsibility of other people contributing to the campaign, making sure we run an efficient and organized campaign, one that uses our contributors money and uses it well. We’re accountable to them,” Parnell said.