Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican nominee for U.S. vice president, says she will not run for re-election and will step down later this month as governor of the state of Alaska.  Palin's announcement has fueled speculation about her political future. 

Governor Palin says she will resign on July 26, and that she will try to "affect positive change" from outside government. "I have never believed that I nor anyone else needs a title to do this, to make a difference, to help people.  So I choose for my state, and for my family, more freedom to progress, all the way around.  So that Alaska may progress, I will not seek re-election as governor," she said.

Palin made her announcement Friday at a press conference outside her home in the small town of Wasilla, Alaska.  She did not announce what she plans to do.

Sarah Palin was elected governor of Alaska in 2006, after one term as mayor of Wasilla.  She was Alaska's youngest and first woman governor. 

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, selected Palin as his running mate.  She was the second woman to be nominated for vice president on a major-party ticket, and the first for the Republicans.

Palin's announcement has fueled speculation that she may be considering running for president in 2012.    

Palin indicated Friday that she has grown frustrated with some aspects of governing. "Spending other people's money in this game?  It will not stop.  It is pretty insane.  My staff and I spend most of our day, we are dealing with this stuff instead of progressing our state now.  And I know that I promised no more politics as usual, but this is not what anyone had in mind for Alaska," she said.

Palin also complained about the ridicule her family faces in the public eye.  She said her 14-month-old son, Trig, who has Down's syndrome, had been "mocked and ridiculed by some mean-spirited adults recently."

Palin was elected governor on a populist platform, and her conservative principles helped to solidify support within the Republican Party for McCain's presidential run.

Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell will be sworn in as governor at the governor's picnic in Fairbanks on July 26.