WASHINGTON — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday she would consider serving in the Senate if God gave her the opportunity and Alaskans wanted her to take the job. The state's senior senator, Republican Ted Stevens, fell behind as the count resumed in his re-election bid.
Stevens, who has been in the Senate for 40 years, led by more than 3,000 votes when the Election Day count ended last week. He dropped 814 votes behind his Democratic challenger, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, early Thursday as Alaska election officials began tabulating an estimated 90,000 absentee and provisional ballots. Tens of thousands of ballots remained to be counted.
Even if he is re-elected, Stevens could be ousted by the Senate for his conviction on seven felony counts of failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts, mostly renovations on his home. If Stevens loses his seat, Palin could run for it in a special election. She also could challenge incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2010.
Palin, who was the GOP vice presidential nominee, has two years left on her term as governor. She told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday that she wants to serve her constituents the best she can. "At this point it is as governor," she said.
"Now if something shifted dramatically and if it were, if it were acknowledged up there that I could be put to better use for my state in the U.S. Senate, I would certainly consider that but that would take a special election and everything else," she said. "I am not one to appoint myself or a member of my family to take the place of any vacancy."
Pressed in a separate interview with CNN's Larry King about whether she would serve out her term as governor, Palin said, "I will do what the people of Alaska want me to do."
She added, however, "if they call an audible on me, and if they say they want me in another position, I'm going to do it. ... My life is in God's hands. If he's got doors open for me, that I believe are in our state's best interest, the nation's best interest, I'm going to go through those doors."
While she was on the GOP ticket, Palin put aside questions about Stevens' Senate seat.