(CNN)The news lit up the internet: Sarah Palin — yes, that Sarah Palin — opened the door to run for the Senate in 2022.
“If God wants me to do it, I will,” Palin said when asked whether she might run against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) next November — although she derided the “bubble” of Washington, DC.It’s hard to imagine anything better for Murkowski’s chances of winning a fifth term than “Senate candidate Sarah Palin.”Here’s why:Alaska, thanks to a series of recent election reforms, will hold an all-party primary next year — with every candidate of every party running together. Then, if no candidate gets 50% in the primary, the top four vote-getters — regardless of party — would advance to the general election.Read MoreA Palin candidacy would immediately make her the most prominent Republican running besides Murkowski. And would make it more difficult for Kelly Tshibaka, a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner, who is already in the race — and has the support of former President Donald Trump — to make it into the top four — or at least to be the most prominent Republican in the general election other than Murkowski.Even if Tshibaka — likely buoyed by that Trump endorsement — remains competitive with Palin (or even gets more votes), it’s possible the two of them split the anti-Murkowski vote. That split could well allow a Democrat — possibly Al Gross, who ran and lost for Senate in 2020 — to slip into the general election against Murkowski.
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All of which would likely lead to one of two top-two possible matchups next fall:1) Murkowski vs. Palin: While there’s no question that the former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee still has some constituency among the most conservative of Republicans, there is also a big chunk of Alaska voters who wouldn’t vote for Palin under any circumstances. Not ever. That includes plenty of Republicans not to mention virtually all Democrats and a big chunk of independents. It’s hard to imagine Murkowski losing that race.2) Murkowski vs. a Democrat: While Gross ran a solid — and well-financed — candidacy against Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) in 2020, he still lost by 13 points. Because this is Alaska. It’s still a place where a generic Republican candidate starts with a considerable advantage over a generic Democrat. (Even Trump, not your typical conservative, won Alaska by 10 points in 2020). And if Gross doesn’t run, any other Democrat — if he or she even managed to make it into the runoff — would be hard-pressed to stay competitive with Murkowski.All of that is to say this: If Palin ran, Murkowski’s chances of winning reelection would go way up.Now, because Palin is Palin, she almost certainly won’t run. It’s far easier to be a reality sort-of celebrity than to take on the rigors of running a serious statewide campaign. Which is why she’s never run for another office after her failed VP bid beside the late Sen. John McCain more than a decade ago.Odds are, then, that Palin is just talking, with no real plan to actually run. But if you’re Lisa Murkowski, you should do absolutely everything you can to make Palin more interested in the race. Because it would make your own race a whole heck of a lot easier.CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly state that Alaska’s top four vote-getters would advance to the general election.