JUNEAU - Republican gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin is catching heat for telling a hometown crowd that if elected, her decisions would favor the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
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Her comments came Tuesday during an address to the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce.
"You will have an advocate down there in Juneau, of course. Certainly, people will assume I'm biased toward the valley in the decisions I make. So be it, because I will be," Palin told the crowd. "The valley is a wonderful place to be. You could be setting an example for the rest of the state of Alaska."
Palin, the apparent front-runner in the governor's race, was a two-term Wasilla mayor and a city councilwoman.
Her opponent, Democrat Tony Knowles, pounced on Palin's comments. The Knowles campaign released a statement calling them "careless" and showing a lack understanding of a governor's responsibilities.
"Perhaps it's news to her that a governor must represent the whole state - not just one region and not just one town," Knowles said in the statement.
Palin spokesman Curtis Smith said Palin's comments were taken out of context and were made to a partisan crowd she was familiar with. Palin was defending Wasilla from "disrespectful" allegations that she is not qualified to be governor because her experience is just that as mayor of the small city, Smith said.
"She has a special place in heart for the Mat-Su, but that in no way will manifest itself into favoritism," Smith said. "I no way does she think she's going to favor Wasilla over another place when it comes to governing."
Knowles spokeswoman Patty Ginsburg said she did not believe Palin's words were taken out of context and they speak for themselves.
"If she didn't mean it, it didn't demonstrate very good judgment," Ginsburg said.
The general election is Nov. 7.