Running for mayor in Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin brought ideological politics to a small-town race that had been focused on roads and sewers, the New York Times reports. The 32-year-old candidate defeated a three-term incumbent by highlighting her anti-abortion stance, her NRA membership, and her religious work —while the state Republican Party, never before involved in mayoral elections, endorsed her.
“Abortion, gun rights, term limits, and the religious born-again thing” got Palin into office, said her opponent, a pro-choice lapsed Lutheran who had been Palin's aerobics-class buddy. As mayor, she considered banning some books in the library, to the chagrin of an "aghast" librarian, and fired the police chief (also a former workout buddy) for not being pro-gun enough. Some upset with her leadership talked about a recall, Time reports, but by the end of her first term, she was re-elected by a large majority.