For a politician who carried eight states in the 2008 Republican primaries and has the top-rated weekend cable news show, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee still has an uncanny ability to sneak up on people.
Though Sarah Palin's primary endorsements have been highlighted and analyzed to no end, Tuesday's closely watched gubernatorial runoff in Georgia served as a reminder that Huckabee can make his mark on 2010 races, too.
In Georgia, Huckabee held off on endorsing Rep. Nathan Deal until just five days before the election, which Deal won by fewer than 2,500 votes over the Palin-backed candidate, Karen Handel.
In a margin so tight, Huckabee's Sunday rally with Deal and the phone banking his political action committee conducted in Georgia may have been just enough to put Deal over the edge. Reached by email on Wednesday, Huckabee alluded to the impact his visit seems to have made.
"Check the poll numbers before I went and compare them to the election," Huckabee wrote in an email to RealClearPolitics. "You can draw your own conclusions."
Polls taken just before Huckabee's visit showed the two candidates either in a statistical tie or with Handel maintaining a slight lead.
HuckPAC executive director Hogan Gidley pointed to the approximately 1,000 calls that Huck PAC made to voters in suburban Gwinnett County, which was considered part of Handel's home turf, but where Deal ended up winning by 740 votes.
"We do a lot of the things that fly under the D.C. radar like robocalls, get-out-the-vote messages, e-blasts, and things like that," Gidley said. "And while they're not something that excites members on the press, the people on the ground who receive the votes and the benefits of the governor's trust do ...
...Indeed, perhaps his most unexpected 2010 endorsement to date came when he followed Palin in lending his support to longshot candidate Joe Miller in his race to unseat Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska.
In a nod to the idiosyncrasies of Alaska Republican politics and Palin's declining popularity in her home state, it is Huckabee's image and endorsement text, not Palin's, which greets visitors on the home page of Miller's campaign web site. Palin's name is not even listed among the four prominent conservatives whom Miller touts on the top of his campaign site for having backed him.
If Miller were able to pull off a shocking upset in the Aug. 24 primary, he may well have Huckabee to thank even more heartily than his fellow Alaskan.
Joe Miller has won his primary bid in Alaska and Governor Huckabee and his army of activist supporters helped push Joe to victory by an approximate 1,700 votes. Join the Legions of Hucks Army by going to http://teamhuck.ning.com and then find your State site too~