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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

DSCC Ad Links Crist and Ayotte to Palin

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has released a Web ad linking one confirmed and one potential Republican candidate in the 2010 senatorial races to soon-to-be former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. But one person isn’t quite like the others.

According to a description of the ad on its YouTube channel, the DSCC says, “Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte all have something in common: they all promised to serve the people of their state, and they’ve all reneged on that promise to advance their careers.”

It’s true that Palin is resigning from her publicly elected position as governor after a little more than two-and-a-half years on the job. But it’s not clear what her future career plans are. Palin has explained her early departure by saying that it’s the right time to leave. And although it has been suggested that her resignation comes at a time when she would like to get involved in national politics, it remains to be seen what her next move will be.

Ayotte, however, did leave her job to contemplate a campaign for higher office. The former New Hampshire attorney general resigned to consider a run at the seat that Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire will vacate next year. Ayotte reportedly had told the state’s governor, who reappointed her to the position earlier this year, that she intended to complete her second four-year term, but she explained the reversal, saying “no one could have predicted the changes that have occurred on the political landscape.”

Crist’s inclusion in the ad, however, seems less fair. He has decided not to run for reelection in 2010. Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida is retiring next year, and Crist is running to fill his seat. But unlike Palin and Ayotte, Crist, as of today, isn’t resigning and fully intends to complete the rest of his term.

But it is not uncommon for politicians to leave one office for another to “advance their careers.” In fact, the DSCC wouldn’t have to even go outside of its own party to find examples. Hillary Clinton left her New York Senate seat vacant just two years after being reelected to join President Barack Obama’s administration as secretary of state. Vice President Joe Biden decided not to return to the Senate, despite being releected for the sixth time in 2008, to take his place in the current administration. And Obama, a former senator from Illinois, left Congress early as well to become president, despite telling the Chicago Sun-Times four years prior that he had no attention of running for president and would serve his full six-year term as senator.