2012 Update: Tim Pawlenty

I think we know with reasonable certainty that, standing up there on the west front of the Capitol on January 20, 2013, will be one of three people: Obama, [Tim] Pawlenty, and [Mitch] Daniels.”  George Will came to this conclusion on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”  InTrade, the world’s leading prediction market (according to itself), has Tim Pawlenty’s chances of being the Republican nominee at 18.4% (It has Romney at 25.8%, Jon Huntsman at 12.6%, and Mitch Daniels at 11%).

Tim Pawlenty

So, I thought I would find out who exactly Tim Pawlenty was.  He’s kind of a dark horse, even though he was a two-term governor from a fairly large state.

His less than 20-year career in politics began in 1992 when he was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives, where he served for six terms, including four years as the House Majority leader (after the Republicans became the majority in 1998).   He ran for governor in 2002 in a three-way race, and won with 44% of the vote.  He was re-elected in 2006 with 46.7% of the vote.

Pawlenty was elected in 2002 on a platform of balancing the budget without raising taxes, which he did in his first year.  He balanced the state budget deficit of $4.3 billion by reducing state services.  He did, however, raise fees in the state of Minnesota, including fees for the state universities

Social conservatives may be heartened by Pawlenty’s states positions on social issues.  He opposes abortion (though not in all cases), he opposes same-sex marriage, and would reinstate the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that President Obama rescinded.

He publicly supported the legislation to control greenhouse gases, and supported policies of cap and trade in 2008.  Then, in the last few weeks, he’s come out and said that he was wrong to hold those positions.  In the first televised Republican debate, he said, “I’ve said I was wrong.  It was a mistake, and I’m sorry.  You’re going to have a few clunkers in your record, and we all do, and that’s one of mine.  I just admit it.  I don’t try to duck it, bob it, weave it, try to explain it away.  I’m just telling you, I made a mistake.”  Well, at least he’s candid about his mistakes.

He also, like many of the other candidates, has name recognition issues, though with Mike Huckabee dropping out of the race, Pawlenty is becoming more well-known.  He was also one of John McCain’s campaign co-chairs in 2008, which probably doesn’t help him with the social conservative or Tea Party Republicans.  He raised fees in Minnesota to close budget gaps, in order to keep his promise not to raise taxes; that’s seen by some on the right as a cop-out.

So, can he be the Republican nominee?  Perhaps.  But what he really has going for him now is (a) he’s not Mitt Romney, and (b) he doesn’t have a lot of baggage.  That’s not really the things on which you want to build a winning campaign.

Question: What are your thoughts on Tim Pawlenty?  Would you vote for him?

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