Mark Begich, Alaska's lone Democratic senator, is up for re-election this year, and if the political winds are to be believed, his opponent may be someone very, very familiar.

Mother Jones' Andy Kroll noted yesterday that a possible Sarah Palin candidacy for senator is getting a boost from Dan Backer, the high-powered Tea Party attorney who just struck a blow for unlimited campaign donations in the Supreme Court's recent McCutcheon v. FEC ruling:

In an email headlined "Palin for Senate" recently blasted out by a PAC called the Tea Party Leadership Fund, Backer writes, "Sarah's the proven leader we need." He goes on, "She has a better grasp on world politics, and she knows what it means to cherish and protect our American freedoms far better than THE MAN WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE LEADING THE FREE WORLD." Backer slams incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) for spending "too much time in Washington, DC, begging the Obama administration for favors rather than representing the good people of Alaska." Palin supporters need to act quick, Backer warns: The window for her to get into the race "has almost closed." And so Backer asks recipients to sign a petition and gather enough signatures to "to push Sarah Palin over the top in a critical run for Alaska's Senate seat in 2014."

In an interview, Backer said almost 100,000 people had signed the Palin for Senate petition. If Palin did enter the race,he said the Tea Party Leadership PAC would bolster her candidacy with direct mail and radio ads. "Nobody's going to be a greater agent for change than Sarah Palin from Alaska," Backer told me. "She will bring something to the race and she will disrupt the Senate. And disruption is good."

Kroll points out that the email—which asks readers for an immediate donation to the PAC—could just be a cynical use of Palin's name to generate funds for other uses. But he adds that Palin did show interest in the seat on Sean Hannity's show last year, and with the Democrats' thin Senate majority depending on races like this one, it's thought her star power could give Republicans a needed win—in Alaska, and in the war to mobilize a nationwide voting base.

Not that anybody knows if Palin could actually flip the race. Her negative polling in Alaska is truly abysmal these days. But if nothing else, her mere specter could force Dems to toss more money at Alaska in an effort to hold Begich's seat—a race that's already costing them more than they probably hoped.

As for Palin? There's a weak field of four candidates on the GOP side now, the primary's not until August, and her Amazing America show is going gangbusters on the Sportsman Channel, complete with a Murka-lovin' Nickelback tribute band doing the theme song. Whether she runs or not, expect a summer of national fear and loathing, and a pile of money to fall on Maison Sarah.

[Photo credit: AP]