Some Republican candidates work for months to get an endorsement from Sarah Palin. All Rita Meyer did was answer her cell phone.
The Republican candidate for governor in Wyoming received a call from Palin’s staff last Thursday notifying her of the pending endorsement — less than an hour before the former GOP vice presidential nominee posted the news on her Facebook page.
In an age of tightly choreographed campaigns, the idea that such a potentially consequential endorsement might land out of the blue, without prior notice or behind-the-scenes discussion with the endorsee, seems preposterous.
But that’s how Palin rolls, according to some recipients of the former Alaska governor’s imprimatur. In Meyer’s case, she had never met Palin, nor was her campaign in contact with Palin’s staff.
“Actually my campaign staff was taken completely by surprise by Sarah Palin’s endorsement,” said Meyer, the state auditor.
Meyer said she’s not even sure how Palin’s staff got her cell phone number. She suspects a supporter, Clay Cunningham, included it in a letter to Palin last week touting Meyer’s candidacy. Meyer said she did not ask Cunningham to write the letter, and Cunningham said he never heard back from the Palin camp.
While some campaigns have sometimes worked hard to get an endorsement from Palin, more than a few report an experience similar to Meyer’s — a big but welcome surprise.
In Iowa, administrative assistant Leo Hough answered the phone when Palin called former Gov. Terry Branstad’s campaign headquarters June 3 to let them know that she had endorsed him in the GOP gubernatorial primary — just moments before she posted it to her Facebook page and five days before voters went to the polls.
Branstad had never met with Palin and did not court the former governor’s endorsement, so the phone call came as a shock to the campaign — and to Hough.