ABC News' Alex Pepper reports:
Sarah Palin’s much-heralded slate of endorsements suffered a setback yesterday, with the first loss of a Palin-endorsed candidate in a statewide race.
Palin-backed Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., narrowly lost the Republican Senate primary to Rep. Jerry Moran, who had the support of another prominent endorser, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC. In late June, Palin announced support for Tiahrt in a Facebook note, her preferred medium for endorsements, calling him a “Commonsense Conservative.” The bitterly contested race represented the first Senate or gubernatorial race in which a candidate with Palin’s endorsement has failed to capture the Republican nomination.
It is unlikely to be the last such case, however, with Palin supporting underdog Senate candidates Joe Miller, R-Alaska, and Clint Didier, R-Wash., and her endorsement today of the long shot Republican primary campaign of Brian Murphy for governor of Maryland.
Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich is heavily favored to prevail in the Sept. 14 primary. Ehrlich and incumbent Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley have already begun to trade barbs in anticipation of a rematch of their 2006 matchup.
In a release, Murphy described the endorsement as “an honor and a privilege.”
Across the country, Palin’s endorsees have seen mixed success. In gubernatorial races, she is 5-0 in races where the Republican nominee has been decided. Mary Fallin’s victory in Oklahoma last week was the latest triumph. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel trumpeted Palin’s endorsement en route to a first place finish in the Republican primary and will receive a visit from Palin next Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s runoff contest again Rep. Nathan Deal.
In Senate races, she is now 2-1, having backed the successful candidacies of Carly Fiorina, R-Calif., and Rand Paul, R-Ky.
House races have proved a different story. While Tim Scott, R-SC, won the primary in the South Carolina 1st district after receiving Palin’s endorsement, Cecile Bledsoe, R-Ark., and Vaughn Ward, R-Ind., failed in their bids. This record will change significantly though, as the majority of Palin-backed house candidates are involved in still-upcoming primaries.
All that seems sure is that as primary season continues, the unpredictable blessing of Sarah Palin will continue to fascinate candidates and commentators alike.