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Governor Palin to quit office at picnic

SARAH Palin, the former Republican US vice presidential candidate, will step down as Alaska's governor today with her political future clouded by ethics probes, legal bills and dwindling popularity.

Palin made a surprise decision on July 3 that she would resign, raising questions whether she was planning to mount a run for president.

The handover to Alaska Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell will take place at an annual picnic hosted by the governor in Fairbanks, where Palin intends to deliver a farewell speech and Parnell will take the oath of office.

The picnic, usually a low-key event, will be attended by armies of national reporters and camera crews.

Making time for family or to address legal issues could have pushed Palin to resign, said Michael Josephson, a former law professor in California who regularly advises Alaska lawmakers on ethics issues.

"The problem is she hasn't been as coherent or clear as I would have liked her to be," Josephson said.

Palin's ethics woes have helped batter her image. A new Washington Post-ABC poll puts her favorability rating at 40 percent, with 53 percent giving her an unfavorable rating.

She has cited a variety of reasons for quitting -- the burden of fighting nearly two dozen ethics charges, which she has dismissed as "frivolous" and her desire to avoid being perceived as a powerless "lame-duck" governor, among others.


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