Will a Loss Sic 'Pit Bull' Palin on Critics?

If voters send Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin home next week, some of her critics there are worried the self-dubbed lipsticked pit bull or her supporters might come seeking revenge.

"I am no fool. She is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future. That's life," said Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla, Alaska native.

"She will continue to pursue punitive action against people she doesn't like," Kilkenny added. After Palin joined the GOP ticket in late August, Kilkenny penned a lengthy email on Palin's pros and cons that was forwarded thousands of times, making its author an overnight political sensation -- and one of the most visible early critics of Palin's candidacy.

In her email, Kilkenny gave Palin props for being "smart," "savvy," and "energetic and hardworking." But she also said her neighbor and governor had "unbridled ambition" and "predatory ruthlessness," was prone to cronyism and fiscally irresponsible.

Another concerned critic: Retired Pastor Howard Bess of the Church of the Covenant in Palmer, Alaska, who in September told ABC News and others how in the 1990s Palin had tried to get local bookstores to stop selling his book, "Pastor, I Am Gay." Palin has said she has never tried to ban any book.

"When I have talked quite freely, I've done so realizing that there's a price that I have paid," he said.

Bess, an ordained Baptist minister, said he expected Palin would likely block state funds from going to non-profit groups with which he is involved, including a local arts council. Last year Palin blocked a hefty state grant from going to the program, despite approval by the legislature, Bess said.

At the time, Palin said the council's work -- and that of other groups whose funding she vetoed -- was "nonessential."

The McCain-Palin campaign did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Dave Dittman, an Alaska Republican pollster who worked on Palin's 2006 campaign, said her critics had "probably not a whole lot" to fear. "I guess the best way to say it, is that she wouldn't be vindictive in any way that would damage Alaska," he said.

Lap Dog or Attack dog?

Dittman was quoted last year saying, "the landscape is littered with the bodies of those who crossed Sarah," but explained recently he said that because he was asked if she could be a strong leader who could stand up to entrenched interests.

But some insiders say that if Palin loses, she will have to be more lap dog than attack dog to keep her political career alive – a necessity if, as some pundits are saying, she is mulling a presidential run of her own in 2012.

Palin, while still popular in Alaska, cannot rely on the staggering public approval ratings she once enjoyed, and she has damaged her ties with the state legislature.

For most of her time as governor, Palin saw approval numbers in the 80s; she has reportedly lost roughly 20 points since joining the McCain campaign. Observers say that's because she has pushed a brand of acrimonious partisanship from the stump that turns off Alaska voters. Dittman, the pollster, said her numbers were bound to drip since her earlier high ratings were "unsustainable."

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