Sarah Palin (R)

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Having clobbered unpopular incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in a summer primary, Sarah Palin (R) won the Alaska governor's race by defeating the best-known Democratic politician in the state, former governor Tony Knowles.

Palin, 42, former mayor of the booming town of Wasilla, presented herself as an outsider Republican, challenging what she called a cozy relationship between the "old guard" of both political parties and Alaska's powerful energy industry.

A former point guard for Wasilla's championship high school basketball team, Palin was nicknamed "Sarah Barracuda" for aggressive and relentless play. In a state where Republicans dominate, the mother of four used those skills to carve out a distinctive niche as a face both fresh and fierce.

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