Tim Pawlenty

T-Paw and Rove: Let the speculation resume

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

The twin headliners of today’s closing session of the state Republican Party convention, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former White House master strategist Karl Rove, broke bread together this morning before the proceedings got underway.

Seated in a corner booth in the restaurant at the downtown Radisson, they conferred intently, interrupted intermittantly by cell phone calls and party functionaries seeking a handshake.

Rove, who famously steered Pawlenty toward running for governor six years ago, has been an informal, unofficial adviser to presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain, who, in turn, has reportedly penciled Pawlenty in on his short list of vice-presidential possibilities. Pawlenty, a national co-chairman of the Arizona senator’s campaign, has repeatedly brushed aside speculation that he’s angling for the job.

The noise level in the restaurant made it impossible to eavesdrop effectively on their conversation, so speculate at will on what they were schmoozing about.

Pawlenty of flyover land gets another boost

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

On The McLaughlin Group’s weekly bombast-fest last weekend, the always provocative — if not always geographically precise — Eleanor Clift made a prediction. (The transcript/podcast isn’t tim_pawlenty.jpgon the site yet, but here’s the link.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Because the Democrats, all of them, say all our troops will be out within a year, combat troops, General David Petraeus will be a major player in the campaign of 2008, this year.


MS. CLIFT: You heard it here first — Wisconsin Governor Tim Pawlenty likely to be the Republican running mate, whoever gets the nomination.


Pawlenty on immigration: What role politics?

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Gov. Tim Pawlenty renewed his periodic crusade against illegal immigration Monday, and some of his critics were quick to detect a political motive.

Union leader Javier Morillo said it plainly to reporter Jean pawlenty_mccain.jpgHopfensperger: “I think this has everything to do with the presidential race. Immigration is the one issue John McCain has been clobbered on. If the governor is, as everyone speculates, looking to be McCain’s vice president, he’ll be the guy with credibility on immigration from the Republican perspective.’’

It’s true that McCain has run afoul of strong sentiments on this issue in the Republican base, where his comprehensive immigration reform ideas have been seen as “amnesty.” He had a difficult exchange on the subject with Mitt Romney in the weekend debates.

The issue is hardly a new one for Pawlenty, but his firing it up again does have the effect of placing him where he could give McCain some balance. Similarly, on taxes, Pawlenty is seen nationally as a strong low-tax advocate, another issue where some have doubts about McCain.

Meantime, Pawlenty has lately endorsed strong action to combat climate change, an issue McCain is also speaking out on.

What to make of the critics’ charge?

Still more buzz about Pawlenty’s veep appeal

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

lopez.jpgThe more Tim Pawlenty says no, the more attractive he becomes to elements of his party that keep toying with the notion of Midwestern veep on the ticket.

The latest admirer is Mallory Factor, one of the conservative elite who has been called the “George Soros of the right,” for his high-level involvement in politics.

In the latest National Review, Factor lists Pawlenty’s charms, calling tim_pawlenty.jpghim “an obvious choice” for the shortlist. His reasons? Pawlenty’s oft-quoted “Sam’s Club” Republican philosophy, his focus on clean energy, his anti-tax tilt and his basic clean-cut quality

Interestingly, Factor points to one potential problem area for Pawlenty: his veto of the transportation bill prior to the I-35W bridge collapse. “Though he did so for the best reasons _ he thought it was bloated with pork and he wanted the Legislature to try again _ he will nonetheless have to account for the decision,” Factor said.

Factor seems to be particularly fond of the young-old dynamic, saying that Pawlenty’s “youthful demeanor and attractive family would make a nice contrast to an older presidential nominee, such as John McCain or Fred Thompson.” (Thompson, who has children far younger than Pawlenty’s, may take exception to that.)

Recently relocated from his longtime bastion in New York to South Carolina, Factor seems to think Republicans needn’t waste time wooing the South. (If that base isn’t already secured, he said, not much else will matter). Rather, Republicans should focus on a potentially new locus of power: the tri-state super region of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, which together offer 27 electoral votes. (Just for the record, Bush lost both Wisconsin and Minnesota last time and won Iowa by a hair.)

So why does Pawlenty keep popping up on the national agenda? Here’s a guy who says repeatedly that wants only to serve out his term. If only… he didn’t turn up so often in WSJ, NYT, CNBC’s Power Lunch (on the same day the Factor piece came out).


Another “special” special session?

Monday, September 17th, 2007

In the bleary-eyed hours of last Wednesday morning, the special legislative session had barely been gavelled to a close and Gov. Tim Pawlenty had just signed the bill into law when talk began of the need for another special session.

As incongruous as it might seem, lobbying efforts have been intensifying to bring lawmakers back again before the regularly scheduled legislative session begins in February.

Why the hurry? Many believe that four months will be too long to wait.

When legislators will meet again in February, will they really pass a gas tax increase in an election year? Will the housing implosion by that time have dried up revenue that could have gone to property tax relief as the economy turns sour?

A property tax bill vetoed by Pawlenty would have given cities like Hibbing a 10.1 decrease in its tax levy. Without the tax bill it is facing a 9.9 percent increase. Minneapolis would have received over $13 million in new local government aid. St. Paul would have received more than $9 million.

Tom Kuntz, the mayor of Owatonna and President of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, said cities awaiting help for local government aid cannot wait. Local budgets are being finalized by the first of December and a special session is needed by mid-November, he said.

“If the economy turns sour they don’t have the dollars to work with, there’s no chance in heck of getting an increase in local government aid.”

While the door is not completely closed, Pawlenty appears disinclined to call lawmakers back again before February.

“As the Governor stated early Wednesday morning after signing the flood relief package, absent a dramatic event such as another natural disaster, other issues will be dealt with during the regular 2008 session, which is only a few months away,” Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said Friday.

Grover’s Nod

Friday, September 14th, 2007

On August 9, eight days after the I-35W bridge collapse, no-new-tax guru Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, sent out a letter to Minnesota legislators reminding them of the principles of the no-new-tax pledge. One of the principles included the idea that not even a natural disaster should sway signers from maintaining their stands against raisingtim_pawlenty.jpg taxes.

On August 10, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who signed the pledge in his first bid for governor, sent a letter to DFL legislative leaders indicating that he supported a five-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase to pay for transportation funding. But he said he would prefer that any gas tax increase be temporary and that it be offset by decreases in the income tax.

DFL leaders and Pawlenty critics point to Pawlenty’s and Norquist’s letters as evidence that the governor was bowing to his conservative base and feeling pressure from Republicans, even after he seemed amenable to much more of a transportation funding compromise after the I-35W bridge collapse.

We asked both Norquist’s office and Gov. Pawlenty’s office what the connection was between the two letters.

What will it take? The “Lundegaard-ization” of a catastrophe

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Perhaps the best analogy of what is going on in the on-again off-again special session debate can be found in a telling scene from the beloved Minnesota movie, “Fargo.” No, it’s not the part with the woodchipper.

It’s the scene where car salesman Jerry Lundegaard and an irate customer face each other over the unexpected inclusion of the cost of a sealant in the price of the car. After some give and take, a seemingly distraught Jerry goes to his boss. In reality, it’s a ploy. He spends some time talking about the Gophers before returning to the table.

Jerry Lundegaard: “Well, we’ve never done this before. But seeing as it’s special circumstances and all, he says I can knock a hundred dollars off that Trucoat.”
The customer is irate and hurls accusations about how untrustworthy Lundegaard is. But ultimately, the car buyer can’t bring himself to walk away from the deal.

Now, consider the events this week.

Rep. Alice Hausman, chairwoman of the House Capital Investment Finance Division, was part of a group of state representatives who toured the flood-damaged areas on Wednesday.

She came back to say this:

“We heard from a woman who had lost her home and her business tell us
that having our committee visit today gave her hope that her town can
rebuild and thrive. Now we need to take her story and
all of those we heard today back to St. Paul and get this special
session done, so these hardworking people won’t lose hope in the hard
weeks and months ahead.”

Gov. Tim Pawlenty also visited southeastern Minnesota on Wednesday. He was asked afterward if he had detected any anger from average citizens about inaction in St. Paul.

This is what he had to say:

“They don’t understand the details of all this stuff but they want and need help. The people that we’ve met with for the most part have been wonderful. They’re tired. They want some hope and they want some help and we can and should give that to them. But Minnesotans are strong and good people. They understand there is a process but they have expectations about needing and wanting help and we should give that to them.”

Why haven’t more average Minnesotans become angry? What will it take to get Pawlenty and House and Senate DFL leaders to walk out the door with an agreement on a special session?

Every time they seem close to shaking hands, one of them throws in the extra cost of the Trucoat.

Staff writer Mark Brunswick: Now, wouldn’t that be special?

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Is there anything special about a special session? Minnesota’s governors called only three special sessions in the first half century of statehood, but have called 29 since 1959. ramsey.jpg

There have been three special sessions called to address major disasters: floods in 2002 and 1997 and the Sioux wars of 1862.

With the bridge on a major transportation artery collapsed and three counties in southern Minnesota under water, it would not be hard to consider this the kind “extraordinary occasion” upon which the state consitution allows the governor to call a special session. Negotiations on a special session agenda continue.

“Any special session should be confined to addressing immediate needs,” said Rep. Chris DeLaForest, R-Andover, expressing the concern of many Republicans. “Otherwise there’s a great risk of a chaotic free-for-all.”

Back in 1862, on the eve of a special session called to address concerns over the Dakota conflict, The Stillwater Messenger made the same observation after rumors circulated that the Legislature planned to elect Gov. Alexander Ramsey to the U.S. Senate:

“The critical state of our domestic affairs rendered this course by the Governor highly appropriate, and if the members will but go to work with energy and prudence and finish up the business of the session and adjourn at the earliest possible moment, the people will heartily acquiesce in their actions”

The Faribault Republican was even more pointed, warning:

“They better not do it (electing Ramsey); particularly the members of Southern Minnesota, and the Minnesota Valley; and if they do they should return with their coffins on their backs, for their constituents will have their political graves dug for them when they get home.”

Lawmakers met and the immediately began debating the first order of business: collecting per diem and mileage.

Here are some questions and answers concerning special sessions:


Pawlenty praises another presidential hopeful

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

According to this Hotline report, Gov. Tim Pawlenty was in Washington the other day talking to national reporters andtim_pawlenty.jpg pointedly dropped a new presidential candidate’s name — that of Mitt Romney.

Of course, Pawlenty also stroked his longtime favorite, Sen. John McCain, whose campaign is in trouble by all accounts.

But the report says it’s not the first time recently that Pawlenty has seized a chance to speak favorably of the former Massachusetts governor.

Whatever could it mean?

Guestposter Bob von Sternberg on Pawlenty’s lower profile amid McCain’s dimming prospects

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

vonste.jpgAs Sen. John McClain’s presidential campaign is perceived to be (choose your metaphor) imploding, melting down, or hitting the rocks, his marquee Minnesota supporter has been nowhere to be seen or heard.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who signed on early as one of the Arizona senator’s national co-chairmen,pawlenty_mccain.jpg hasn’t publicly campaigned for him for weeks, not since McCain made a fundraising stop in St. Paul last month.

But nothing too Machiavellian should be read into Pawlenty’s sudden low visibility on behalf of the onetime GOP frontrunner, said Mike Krueger, the governor’s political spokesman.

“Absolutely,” Krueger said when asked if his boss remained on the Straight Talk Express. “We’ve been in contact with [McCain’s campaign staff] about fundraisers, TV appearances. It is only a coincidence – he’s been busy with a lot of other stuff.”

One indication that McCain still values Pawlenty’s star power as an up-and-comer in the GOP: The front page of his campaign website continues to feature Pawlenty, with a mugshot, videos and a testimonial in which he calls McCain “a strong, tested national leader of uncommon courage.”

Bob von Sternberg

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