Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
Sarah Palin doesn't seem discouraged that her candidate lost New Jersey's Senate race or by the pummeling Republicans took during the government shutdown.
Now, the former Alaska governor and darling of the Tea Party movement is suggesting conservatives should focus on Senate races in Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi where the Republican incumbent is up for re-election next year.
"Friends, do not be discouraged by the shenanigans of D.C.'s permanent political class today," Palin posted on her Facebook page early Thursday, as the federal government reopened and hours after Democrat Cory Booker defeated Republican Steve Lonegan for Senate in New Jersey.
"Be energized," she said. "We're going to shake things up in 2014. Rest well tonight, for soon we must focus on important House and Senate races. Let's start with Kentucky - which happens to be awfully close to South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi - from sea to shining sea we will not give up. We've only just begun to fight."
GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee have all already drawn challengers from within their own party who have Tea Party support. In Mississippi, state Sen. Chris McDaniel - who is allied with Tea Party conservatives - will announce Thursday whether he's challenging incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran in next year's primary.
While some political observers believe Palin's influence has waned since she was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2008, her words and endorsements still matter to many conservatives. Palin provided timely and important support to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas last year, which helped him defeat better-funded and better-known Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a Republican primary.