On Pawlenty’s future

pawlenty_triumph.jpg Tim Pawlenty is holding a 2 p.m. news conference “regarding his future plans,” which gives us a little more time to engage in the national pastime for political types who have nothing else to write about: Tim Pawlenty’s future plans. MPR’s Tom Scheck is citing a source saying the governor won’t run. (Update: He won’t run.)

Even before that, however, the betting line — mine — said he’ll announce he’s not running for a third term. Reasons: Why should he? He’s wanted to be more than a governor since before he was a governor. The governor’s office was the consolation prize for getting out of Norm Coleman’s way — at the behest of Dick Cheney — in 2001.

Second, it’s never too early to start raising money for a national campaign, but it can be too late. The 2012 presidential campaign — at least from the Republican point of view — started the minute John McCain declared he had enough delegates for the Republican nomination. Mitt Romney has been raising money. Newt Gingrich has been raising money, and Mike Huckabee has a daily radio show. And while Tim Pawlenty has a few bucks in the campaign accounts, it’s hard to raise money when there’s still a chance you’ll run for governor again.

Which brings up the new big question. What’s he raising money for? The odds say Tim Pawlenty is not going to be the next Republican nominee for president. But if he can make a healthy showing in the primaries, he can be a #2 spot. He’ll be only 52 in 2012 — pretty wet behind the ears in the presidential game (note: Obama was 51 47 when elected.) But the game of a presidential ticket — like TV anchor teams — has changed. His chances at a spot on the ticket would depend on whomever gets the top spot not being a white guy and especially not being a white guy former governor.

Pawlenty’s announcement also puts pressure on Sarah Palin, still the darling of many Republican mainstreeters, to make a move of some sort.

Those aren’t the only two jobs available, however. There’s still the U.S. Senate. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s seat is up in 2012 and while her job approval ratings are pretty high, the Senate makes a nice place to plot a political future and make a ton of cash.

An even more compelling “what if” scenario is what happens to Al Franken’s election certificate if the Minnesota Supreme Court turns aside Norm Coleman’s appeal of Franken’s apparent election victory? Pawlenty has yet to say if he’d sign the certificate. Would not having a statewide election to worry about influence his decision? Few Republicans are going to hold not sending Al Franken to Washington against a future candidate for, well, whatever.

NPR’s “Political Junkie” Ken Rudin analyzes it:


Assuming a White House bid is in his plans, Pawlenty’s decision probably makes sense. It frees him to plot a more conservative course than he would have had he intended to run again back home.

What was your favorite Tim Pawlenty moment? Here’s mine.

The next political game will be who do the Republicans turn to in the 2010 race for governor? A possible bet is Brian Sullivan, the man who turned Gov. Pawlenty into a more conservative conservative at the Republican State Convention in 2002.

Here’s the full press release from the governor’s office:

“I am incredibly grateful for the support and trust the people of Minnesota have given me during my two terms as Governor,” Governor Pawlenty said. “From providing the best support programs in the country for veterans and their families, to moving Minnesota out of the top ten highest taxed states, to sparking economic development in Greater Minnesota, to strengthening our K-12 education standards and implementing performance pay for teachers, much has been accomplished for our state.”

Governor Pawlenty said being governor should not be a permanent position for anyone.

“When it comes to how long someone should stay in an elected position, a little less is better than too much,” Governor Pawlenty said. “It’s a lesson I learned spending time in places like the Croatian Hall in South Saint Paul, where there is inevitably less joy and more trouble in too much pizza or too much beer. We don’t have term limits in Minnesota, but we do have good judgment and common sense. We are a government of laws and ideas, not personalities.”

Governor Pawlenty noted that during the past six and a half years, his administration has continued to improve Minnesota’s quality of life. The state ranks:

1st in the region in annual per capita income (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)

1st in the county in Fortune 500 companies per capita (2009 Fortune 500 list, U.S. Census)

1st in the nation in average ACT test scores (2008 ACT, Inc.)

“Healthiest state in the nation” according to the CQ Press study Health Care State Rankings 2008: Health Care Across America

Accomplishments during the past six and a half years include:

Proposing and creating the nation’s most comprehensive programs for veterans, military members and their families, including enhancing state G.I. Bill benefits, funding a memorial to Minnesota’s World War II veterans, beginning the Military and Veterans

Support Cabinet, and starting the LinkVet program to connect veterans with assistance.

Keeping Minnesota competitive by requiring state government to live within its means and not raise taxes, especially during this period of economic uncertainty.

Balancing the state budget four times without raising taxes, including eliminating a $4.5 billion deficit in 2003 and a $4.8 billion deficit in 2009.

Moving Minnesota out of the top ten highest taxed states, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, a goal of every Governor from all three political parties dating back to Governor Rudy Perpich.

Signing into law nearly $800 million in total tax reductions and a three-year local property tax cap, projected to save taxpayers $78.5 million in 2009 and $460.5 million over the next three years.

Reducing state government growth to average two-year budget increases of less than six percent during the past six years, the lowest budget increases under any Minnesota Governor in at least the past 40 years.

Developing the nation-leading teacher performance pay reform, Q Comp, which links teacher compensation to classroom and student achievement, rather than just seniority.

Creating the Minnesota Academic Standards – new, more rigorous high school graduation requirements.

Establishing Minnesota as the Renewable Fuels Capital of the United States by doubling the amount of renewable fuel used in gasoline, implementing the use of biodiesel and enhancing Minnesota’s role as a top wind energy producing state.

Proposing and signing into law Minnesota’s nation-leading 25 x 25 renewable energy standard, establishing a benchmark of 25 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2025.

Creating the Job Opportunity Building Zone (JOBZ) program to stimulate economic activity in Greater Minnesota. JOBZ has been involved in 323 deals, resulting in commitments of 5,169 jobs, helping to retain 9,743 jobs and producing more than $580 million in new capital investments.

Proposing and establishing a new higher education institution in Rochester, the University of Minnesota-Rochester, with an emphasis on medicine, business and technology.

Reorganizing and consolidating state government agencies including eliminating Minnesota Planning by combining it with the Department of Administration, merging the Departments of Economic Security and Trade and Economic Development, and merging the Department of Employee Relations into the Departments of Finance and Administration, reducing overhead and saving taxpayer resources.

Proposing and signing into law longer sentences for all categories of sex offenders, including life in prison without release.

Implementing health care payment reform based on incentives to improve quality, reduce costs, engage consumers in decision making and encourage more competition – expected to have the potential for approximately $6.9 billion in cost savings by 2015.

Governor Pawlenty also told Minnesotans that he continues to be honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve and will work energetically during his remaining 19 months in office.

“I’ve run a few marathons and I believe in finishing strong,” Governor Pawlenty said. “Minnesotans will get my very best until I’m done.”

Governor Pawenty is serving his second term as the 39th governor of Minnesota. During his time in office, he has served as Chair of the National Governors Association, Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association, and on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, the Achieve Inc. Board of Directors and the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute Board of Directors. He is currently Chair of the Education Commission of the States.

And the DFL’s response:

The Minnesota DFL Party released this statement from Chair Brian Melendez regarding Governor Tim Pawlenty’s announcement that he will not seek another term:

“While we thank Governor Pawlenty for his service to our state, his retirement as governor is an opportunity to move Minnesota forward.

“Governor Pawlenty’s ‘no new taxes’ ideology plays well to Republican special interests and the dinner circuits from Iowa to New Hampshire, but it has hurt Minnesota and Minnesotans. The divisive politics of ideology and calculation have done enough damage.

“Minnesota faces incredible challenges: a historic multi-billion-dollar deficit, disappearing jobs, skyrocketing health-care costs and rising property taxes. We need a leader who will face these problems with courage and honesty, and won’t hide behind clever word games, accounting shifts and budget tricks. We need a leader who understands Minnesota values: accountability, opportunity, prosperity and fair play.

“Today is a day to thank Governor Pawlenty for his service. Starting tomorrow, it will be time to bring Minnesota values back to the Governor’s Mansion. We look forward with hope. We look forward to electing a DFL governor.”

  • bsimon

    The Klobuchar race in 2012 comes to my mind as well. The way things lay right now, I suspect he’d get creamed in that election. Much will depend on the fallout from the pending unallotments. That move may very well limit his chances of winning statewide in MN again; further nudging him towards national aspirations.

  • Npaub

    Good riddance as T-paw is going to leave MN worse than when he first started as a Democrat and then became a Republican. He must have really wanted to join the country club and gated community folks.

  • Bob Collins

    It was Norm Coleman who started in politics as a Democrat and then turned Republican.

    Pawlenty’s family, as I recall, were DFLers, but I believe his political career is entirely as a Republican.

  • Barbara T.

    I think the current President was 47 years old when elected, not 51.

  • Bob Collins

    Right you are. He’ll be 51 at re-election time. Born a year after Pawlenty. (61)

  • Craig A.

    If his re-election was a sure thing he would run, then enter the primary from the Governor’s office. But he is going to face some fallout from the budget issue, and does not want to risk a loss leading up to a primary run, it would look like weakness.

  • JackU

    I figured this announcement would come on July 2nd after he makes his unallotments official on July 1st.

    Basically his not running for reelection was “announced”, in my opinion, when he told the Legislature to go home and he’d finish their job for them. That’s not the tactic of a man who will present himself to Minnesotans for reelection 18 months later.

  • Ginny

    Minnesota’s worst governor ever.

    Now someone else must clean up his destruction.

    Good riddance.

  • Donavon Cawley

    The thing is that if Pawlenty ran for a third term, he might win. But that doesn’t matter – he doesn’t want the job anymore. He wants that big chair in the Oval Office. He’ll probably spend a lot of his time putzing around in Iowa, quietly trying to build up support. Perhaps his status as a neighboring governor will give him an edge in that presidential primary. Perhaps.

  • Craig A.

    A budget hawk rep might have legs leading up to the 2012 primaries. The US debt will be high. Many republicans from the senate will have voted for one spending package or another (either from Bush or Obama), allowing Pawlenty to knock them around on the issue.

  • Janelle

    My fav moment was at the Wild game when he said, “let’s drop the f*** puck.”

  • Craig A.

    Palin: Ceilings out short of electability.

    Romney: Has money, but not a grounded image (because of his hair and his religion).

    Jindal: Has all the presence of a nervous animal.

    But Pawlenty’s main challenge, his speaking voice, too much dipthong in there.

  • Bill

    It was more than time for Governor Pawlenty to step down. Having said that, this is all calculated. The Gov was just too happy to step down. He’s got something else up his sleeve; a bigger position with the Republican Party perhaps. His wife seemed very happy little Timmy was stepping down – read between the lines on that one too. All in all, we, the stupid people of Minnesota got hosed again by a self grandizing politician who cares very little about our state, and cares big time about his own political ambition. When will we learn? How many Ventura’s, Pawlenty’s, and Coleman’s do we have to go through before we settle on people that truly want to remain lifelong Minnesotans?

  • Bob Collins

    I think Ventura tends to get a bad rap sometimes.

    He had an outstanding cabinet and he had good ideas that the Legislature — Moe, Sviggum, and Pawlenty — worked to undermine because two of them had gubernatorial ambitions.

    He also advocated a rainy day fund, caretaking of the tobacco settlement, and expanding the school funding mechanism by broadening the sales tax to help pay for it. The Legislature went along with part of it, but didn’t have the political courage for the second part. How’d that turn out.

    Did he have an ego? Oh, yes.

  • peg n. whole

    // But that doesn’t matter – he doesn’t want the job anymore. He wants that big chair in the Oval Office.

    can you fit a square head in an oval office?

  • bob

    I won’t miss Mr. Less-is-plenty. IMHO, there’s never been a Minnesota governor more lacking when it comes to “the vision thing.” I don’t have any favorite moments where he is concerned; my favorite moment will be when the door of the governor’s mansion swings shut on his heinie for the last time.

    I think Pawlenty realizes that his actions to put Minnesota in a condition of permanent deficits don’t augur well for a third term. If I were a betting man, I’d look for him to become a rainmaker at a big law firm, or maybe a K Street lobbyist. With the Republican party in decline, I don’t see him having enough traction to take a run at Klobuchar’s seat.

    And I agree with what Bob Collins said about Ventura. Yes, we was a little too tightly wrapped and I didn’t support his tax rebates, but otherwise Jesse comes off pretty well, especially when compared to Pawlenty.

  • Joanna

    Pawlenty has energetically dismantled so much of what made Minnesota a better place to live that most of the rest of the upper Midwest. I loathe everything he represents.