"People here are collectively agreeing that it sheds everything she doesn't like about running government now and allows her to devote fulltime to this passion she has about wanting to lead the country away from socialism," said Alaska legislative aide Larry Persily, who worked with the governor in Alaska, and later as her representative in Washington, D.C.
The McCain campaign had not issued a statement as of Friday evening about Palin's resignation.
Earlier this week, Palin and her political operation were portrayed in an unflattering light in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.
Reporter Todd Purdum wrote that it appears Palin has few friends left among the political team assigned to her by the McCain's campaign.
"In recent rounds of long conversations, most made it clear that they suffer a kind of survivor's guilt: they can't quite believe that for two frantic months last fall, caught in a Bermuda Triangle of a campaign, they worked their tails off to try to elect as vice president of the United States someone who, by mid-October, they believed for certain was nowhere near ready for the job, and might never be," Purdum wrote.
Following her announcement today, the Republican Governors Association issued a statement touting the fact that Alaska will remain in GOP hands.
"While we regret the news announced by Governor Palin today, Alaska will continue to have a Republican governor through 2010 and we are confident the state will elect a Republican in next year's election," RGA executive director Nick Ayers said.
"The RGA's focus remains firmly on the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia this year, and the 37 gubernatorial elections that will take place in 2010. We know that winning these races is the most important task facing our Party over the next two years."
In a written statement, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said, "I'm as surprised as all Alaskans by Governor Palin's decision to step down with nearly two years left in her term. There was speculation she would not seek re-election, but she gave no indication of a resignation when I met with her for 45 minutes in her Anchorage office two days ago."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was a GOP presidential candidate last year, issued a statement today, saying, "I wish Sarah Palin and her family well, and I know that she will continue to be a strong voice in the Republican Party."
Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said today, "I plan on talking to Gov. Palin very soon. She is an important and galvanizing voice in the Republican Party. I believe she will be very helpful to the party this year as we wage critical campaigns in Virginia and New Jersey."
Since the Republican ticket lost the presidential election, Palin has remained front and center on the national stage -- whether fundraising for the GOP, garnering publicity about her personal life as an athletic and busy, working mother, or demanding an apology from late-night TV host David Letterman for off-color comments about one of her daughters.
Palin has fought hard to maintain her image in the process, and today she said that effort has cost a significant amount of money.