Let me get this straight. Senator Barack Obama is qualified to be the President of the United States, but Governor Sarah Palin is unqualified to be the Vice President of the United States. In what can only be considered the “hey kettle” comment of the campaign, Senator Obama’s spokesman noted upon hearing about Senator John McCain’s selection of Governor Palin: “Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency.” This statement comes from the party that a mere twelve hours before had nominated a former state legislator from the south side of Chicago with zero foreign policy experience for the presidency. That is rich.
The fact of the matter is that both Senator Obama and Governor Palin can claim twelve years of elected office experience since 1992. That fact alone should have dissuaded the democrats from raising experience as an issue. Given that Senator Obama quickly distanced himself from his campaign’s comments indicates that he knows that the last debate he should get engaged in is a debate on experience with the republican vice presidential candidate. After all, the mere existence of the debate is proof of his experience deficit as compared to Senator McCain. Nonetheless, a review of each candidate’s activities over the last sixteen years leads to one, incontrovertible finding: Senator Obama’s experience pales in comparison to Governor Palin’s experience.
In 1992, hockey mom Sarah Palin decided to fight a tax proposal in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, so ran for the Wasilla City Council. Palin won that election and served on the Wasilla City Council until 1996. In 1996, Councilwoman Palin, frustrated by wasteful spending and high taxes, challenged the incumbent mayor of Wasilla, and won. She served as mayor until 2002.
Over the course of these ten years, especially the six as Mayor of Wasilla, Palin presided over a $6 million budget and a staff of 80 city employees. Wasilla is home to an estimated 1,100 businesses, including steel fabrication, agricultural, manufacturing, and distribution companies. During Mayor Palin’s tenure, Wasilla experienced one of the strongest employment expansions in the state of Alaska.
In 2002, Mayor Palin ran for Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. In a five-way primary, she lost by a mere 2,000 votes.
Given her strong record of reform, Mayor Palin was appointed as the Ethics Commissioner to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2003. She successfully rooted out republican corruption, but when other republican commission members sided with the status quo, rather then “go along to get along,” Commissioner Palin resigned her position in 2004.
Matt A. Mayer, President & CEO of Provisum Strategies LLC and Adjunct Professor at The Ohio State University, is the author of the book “Homeland Security and Federalism: Protecting America from Outside the Beltway” available in June 2009.