[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/07/palin.future/art.palin.gi.jpg caption="Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's decision to step down in late July has rankled both Republicans and Democrats."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin caught the political world by surprise when she announced that she will resign at the end of July.
Her decision has not only rankled political pundits and observers in Alaska and across the country, it has, oddly enough, united Democrats and Republicans in confusion.
But the 45-year-old governor's future could be aimed at being the ultimate GOP superstar, whether it's giving million-dollar speeches, traveling the lower 48 states on a book tour or even getting her own TV show.
John Ridley of National Public Radio says she has the potential to be a Republican "kingmaker."
"She was never going to be president of the United States. But who's got all the sway in the Republican Party right now? It's the political pundits; it's the talk show hosts; it's the people who are not responsible to an electorate," Ridley told CNN's Campbell Brown. "I would not be surprised if around 2011 people are circling around Sarah Palin, saying, 'please, anoint us for the road to the White House.' She's never going to be president but possibly a kingmaker."