Mama Grizzly for Person of the Year? How Sarah Palin Lived Large in 2010

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Sarah Palin

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She’s no longer a sidekick. Since joining John McCain’s 2008 presidential ticket, the former governor has morphed into a formidable GOP headliner.

Back in July 2009, Sarah Palin abandoned the post that paved her way into mainstream politics. Since resigning from her title as Alaska governor, she has needed no political title to stamp her place among the most boisterous figures in Washington. Palin has kept her calendar active via a profitable book, much-anticipated television show and plenty of mystery surrounding her political future — cementing her place as a candidate for TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year.

(See the full list of candidates for the award.)

Palin spent most of 2010 endorsing her female Tea Party colleagues under the label “Mama Grizzlies” — a political message tailor-made for the empowerment of women. Beyond aiding the campaigns of governor-elects Nikki Haley (South Carolina) and Susana Martinez (New Mexico), her viral antics sparked a natural question. Was this fodder for Palin’s intentions to file a 2012 presidential run?

(See more on Palin’s life after Alaska.)

While no concrete word has surfaced regarding that notion, Palin has publicly established her presence in American households. The arrival of her reality-TV razzle-dazzle — Sarah Palin’s Alaska — does more than add some spice to pre-campaign conversations. As TIME TV critic James Poniewozik notes, TLC’s 60-minute forays into Wasilla stand to broaden her political appeal, at a juncture when voters value firm connections with their candidates.

(See photos of Sarah Palin’s Reality-TV show.)

More than 20,000 voters have tipped their support toward Palin for TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year. Head over to TIME.com to do the same for any one of our candidates. Or, let your voice be heard live at one of our 45 meetups during the first two weeks of December.

(See photos of Sarah Palin’s life since the 2008 Election.)

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