Sarah Palin first made history in 2006, when she became the first female and youngest governor of Alaska. In 2008, John McCain chose Palin to serve as his running mate, making her the first woman to run on the Republican Party’s presidential ticket.
Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, Palin moved to Alaska with her family at the age of three months when her father took a teaching position in Skagway in southeast Alaska, before eventually settling in Wasilla, about 40 miles north of Anchorage. Her father, Chuck, was a science teacher and athletic coach. Her mother, Sally, was a school secretary. An outdoors enthusiast, Palin grew up as an avid hunter, fisher, athlete, runner, hiker and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, eating wild game and riding snowmobiles.
A graduate of Wasilla High School, Palin was the co-captain and point guard of Wasilla’s 1982 state championship women’s basketball team, earning the nickname “Sarah Barracuda” for her intense playing style. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987, and became a television sports reporter in Anchorage
Palin married her high school sweetheart, Todd Palin, on August 29, 1988, and helps run his family's commercial fishing business in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. Todd, who is part Yu'pik Eskimo, worked as a production operator on Alaska’s North Slope and is a four-time champion of the Iron Dog, the world’s longest snowmachine race. The Palins have five children and two grandchildren. Their eldest son Track serves in the U.S. Army and completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Entry into Alaska Politics
Palin has a long record of achievement and experience in public office since entering the political arena in 1992. Prior to her election as governor, she served two terms on the Wasilla City Council and two terms as the mayor of Wasilla. During her tenure as mayor, she cut property taxes, reduced wasteful spending, increased services, and made Wasilla a business-friendly environment, drawing in new industry and making it the fastest growing city in Alaska. She was elected President of Alaska’s Conference of Mayors by her peers.
In 2003, she was appointed by the governor to chair Alaska’s powerful Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, where she earned public praise for blowing the whistle on corruption within her own party.
In 2006, Palin rocked the Alaska political establishment by defeating her party’s incumbent governor in the Republican primary and then defeating a former two-term Democratic governor in the general election. Under Palin’s leadership as governor, Alaska invested $5 billion in state savings, overhauled education funding, reformed the state’s employee pension program, passed comprehensive ethics laws, restructured Alaska’s oil valuation formula, enacted a competitive process to construct a natural gas pipeline and protected Alaska’s natural resources. A proven fiscal hawk, Palin cut state spending by nearly 10% and used her line-item veto to cut more than a quarter billion in wasteful spending—the largest veto cuts in the state’s history.
After leaving office in 2009, Palin became a political commentator for the FOX News Channel and published her autobiography, Going Rogue: An American Life (2009). The book became an instant bestseller, selling more than two million copies. She would write two more New York Times best-selling books, America by Heart (2010) and Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas (2013).
She was named to TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” list and was included in Barbara Walter’s “Ten Most Fascinating People” list two years in a row. In 2010, she hosted the 8-week television series Sarah Palin’s Alaska on the TLC network. The show, which chronicled Palin’s travels through the Alaska wilderness, garnered 5 million viewers—a record number for the network.
Through her political action committee, SarahPAC, Palin remains active in the national political scene by supporting candidates who share her fiscal conservative and libertarian ideals for smaller and smarter government. She has been particularly active in supporting Republican women candidates and grassroots reformers bucking the political establishment like herself.
Palin travels internationally for speeches. She loves distance running, extreme hot yoga, lawn work, cooking and road trips with her family. A devout Christian and outdoorsman, she shares her love of God's green earth with all she encounters.