"I have no idea why the governor did what she did," Rep. John Harris, R-Anchorage said. "You can only speculate, but you know, that might be a reasonable speculation."
Harris declared his intention to run for governor Friday afternoon, the first of what is almost sure to be a cavalcade of candidates for Alaska's chief executive.
Palin implied that her real decision was not to seek re-election, and that the resignation was a natural step after that in order to avoid a lame-duck final 18 months of her term.
"With this announcement that I'm not seeking re-election, I've determined it's best to transfer the authority of governor to Lieutenant Governor (Sean) Parnell," Palin said. "I'm determined to take the right path for Alaska, even though it is unconventional and is not so comfortable.
"And I am willing to do this so this administration, with its positive agenda and its accomplishments and its successful road to an incredible future for Alaska, so that it can continue without interruption and with great administrative and legislative success."
Palin said that as she percolated over her decision whether to seek re-election, she thought about how her final months would play out as a lame duck.
"I thought about, well, how much fun some governors have as lame ducks," she said. "They travel around their state, travel to other states, maybe take their overseas, international trade missions -- so many politicians do that.
"And then I thought that's what's wrong. My choice is to take a stand and affect change and not just hit our head against the wall and watch valuable state time, money -- millions of your dollars -- go down the drain in this new political environment."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski blasted Palin's decision in a statement issued Friday evening.
"I am deeply disappointed that the Governor has decided to abandon the State and her constituents before her term has concluded," she said.
One of her most outspoken political opponents -- and someone who declared his intention to run before Palin said she would resign -- was also critical.
"It's something I think most Alaskans won't approve of," Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage said. "It's not something we love. We love the musher who drives on through the storm to the finish, not the musher who quits halfway."
Local pollster Ivan Moore, who typically consults for Democrats, did not think much of Palin's decision, either.
"They're going to look at the fact that she quit being governor of Alaska, and have real doubts as to whether she should be elected president," he said. "I don't see any way how that can help you get re-elected to a higher office, so I think what she's done today has effectively ended her political career."
While Palin did not talk of any possible higher political aspirations, she did touch on her desire to wield her influence in other arenas.
"We know we can affect positive change outside government at this moment in time on another scale and actually make a difference for our priorities, so we will for Alaskans and for Americans," she said.
The former point guard for Wasilla High School then launched into a somewhat labored sports analogy.
"I use (sports) because you are naive if you don't see a full-court press from the national level picking away right now," Palin said. "A good point guard, here's what she does: she drives through a full-court press, protecting the ball, keeping her head up because she needs to keep her eye on the basket, and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win.
"And that is what I'm doing. Keeping our eye on the ball. It represents sound priorities -- remember, they include energy independences, our government and national security, freedom, and I know when it is time to pass the ball for victory."