The Other Woman from Wasilla

Who would have thought that a woman from Wasilla would play a key role in the presidential election? No, I'm not (just) talking about Sarah ...
by | September 17, 2008

President_green_2 Who would have thought that a woman from Wasilla would play a key role in the presidential election? No, I'm not (just) talking about Sarah Palin. I'm talking about Lyda Green.

Green is Alaska's Senate president. Like Palin, she's a Republican from the now-famous town in Alaska's Mat-Su region.

Green and Palin also have something else in common: They can't stand one another. Take a look at what Green told the Anchorage Daily News when Palin was announced as John McCain's running mate:

"She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?" said Green, a Republican from Palin's hometown of Wasilla. "Look at what she's done to this state. What would she do to the nation?"

Green became senate president in an interesting way. She persuaded the Senate's nine Democrats (out of 20 members) to support her bid for leadership, in exchange for committee chairs and other perks of being part of the majority. Eventually, 15 members of the Senate became part of this bipartisan working group.

In her role as Senate president, Green has clashed with Palin on policy. In fact, by most accounts, Green is more conservative than Palin. Green opposed tax increases on oil companies that were pushed by Palin.

It's pretty clear that the feud is personal too. Usually, if your disagreements are only about fiscal policy, you don't tell US Weekly about them.

This year, Palin ended Green's political career -- indirectly. Green was running for reelection until a Palin ally challenged the senate president in the Republican primary. Green, realizing she didn't have a chance against Palin's proxy, dropped out.

So, in her few remaining months in the legislature, how might Green influence the presidential election?

Most obviously, at a time when the McCain campaign is charging that the legislature's Troopergate investigation is the work of Democratic loyalists, Green seems happy to validate the investigation as bipartisan and to criticize Palin in the process. Here's what she said in this morning's New York Times , as a group of Alaska Republicans sued to stop the investigation:

"The McCain campaign is the one that has made this partisan," Ms. Green said. "This was 100 percent bipartisan effort on the part of the Legislature to ask questions that deserve to be answered."

A few quotes in newspaper articles, of course, will have minimal impact on the election's result. But, given what she's saying on the record, I have to wonder what she's telling reporters off the record. Journalists, I'm sure, appreciate any hints as to where they can find dirt on Palin.

And, whether the Troopergate investigation appears bipartisan is not a trivial matter. If the legal maneuvering fails and a report is issued before the election, the McCain campaign's strategy will be to depict the findings as part of a partisan smear campaign against Palin.

It seems clear that Green will vouch for any report's findings. The bigger question, though, may be whether she can persuade Republican allies to do the same. The more Alaska Republicans who support the report, the harder the McCain campaign's task will be. So, if she can do that, she just might get the last laugh in her feud with Palin.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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