"Since long before she became Alaska's youngest -- and first female -- governor 20 months ago, Sarah Louise Heath Palin has been making her mark as an unlikely upstart," the Washington Post writes. "Yesterday, she did it again, accepting Sen. John McCain's surprise offer to be his running mate. Palin, a 44-year-old mother of five who hunts caribou and was once a beauty queen, rose to the statehouse by challenging the corruption that has become endemic in Alaska, even if it meant taking on the Republican establishment there, including the former governor and the state's congressional delegation."
The New York Times: "Though indisputably Alaskan, she rose to prominence by bucking the state's rigid Republican hierarchy, impressing voters more with gumption, warmth and charm than an established record in government."
USA Today focuses on her decision to have a child with Down Syndrome.
And here's an October 2006 Anchorage Daily News profile.