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Ryan Johnson, Forum Communications Co., Published August 21 2010

North Dakota Republicans put jersey on eBay

After months of endorsing Republican candidates nationwide, Sarah Palin has put her name behind a different group – the University of North Dakota’s hockey team.

Former Alaska Gov. Palin autographed a Fighting Sioux hockey jersey that is now taking bids on the popular auction website eBay. After being posted Thursday evening for $250, bidding on the jersey was already over $450 by Friday night.

But Adam Jones, the North Dakota Republican party executive director, said UND fans shouldn’t read too much into Palin’s autograph.

“I don’t think this is an endorsement of any sort toward any university in general,” he said. “She is a fan of hockey; I can confirm that.”

Jones worked for Palin and running mate John McCain in 2008 during McCain’s run for president. He said that role had him working closely with the candidates, and he established a connection he recently used when he sent a UND jersey to Palin.

“Obviously, she’s a very popular figure,” he said. “I thought we’d try to raise a little bit of money.”

The North Dakota Republican Party e-mailed its supporters Thursday asking them to place their bid on the jersey.

“I was pleasantly surprised at the response we got,” Jones said. “In a few minutes, we got five or six bids.”

Jones spent about $250 buying the jersey and getting it framed. The starting bid Thursday evening was $250; by Friday night, 16 people had placed their bids and increased the minimum price to about $450.

The jersey will be on the auction block until Aug. 29.

“We’ll take what we can get,” Jones said. “The elections are an expensive business, and we are always looking for unique ways to raise money and thought this would be a good avenue.”

Jones said the money raised from the jersey will go toward the state party’s Victory fund to support its get-out-the-vote effort. He said it’s a good cause for the party, but don’t expect him to place a bid on the UND memorabilia.

“I’m a University of Utah fan,” he said.

Ryan Johnson is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald