A reader writes:
I read with interest the reader comments regarding Pawlenty. I truly see how some people would view him as the unassuming guy who understands blue-collar types, an "aw shucks" Midwesterner. And in the realm of the current Republican crop, he will definitely come across as one of the candidates that could actually run the country, mainly because he's fairly unexciting and even keeled.
However, he'd have a hard time winning his very own state.
Minnesota is in the midst a huge fight and potential government shutdown because Pawlenty left us with a $5 billion deficit, all while insisting that he had balanced the budget through his accounting shifts and "fees," along with illegally cutting some spending on his own. Even the guy who ran to replace him, Tom Emmer, tried to peddle that nonsense (that there was no budget deficit) and got defeated by Mark Dayton in a year where Republicans ended up with control of both the house and senate. Pawlenty has become more rigid and right wing as he runs, and his ambitions were taken out on our state. He's just not popular here.
In writing about Tim Pawlenty, I urge you to follow the Minnesota discussion closely. He is not that popular here. He was all talk and no action as governor, and lived only on his refusal to increase state taxes. Local taxes went up significantly as a result, and services and quality of life deteriorated. The Minneapolis Tribune had an editorial the other day using these concerns against him. However, he looks good until people look him over closely.
Also, the 2006 election was anything but an endorsement of Pawlenty's performance as governor. He won a three-way race against Hatch, the Democratic attorney general, and Hutchinson, the Independent Party candidate and a former Democratic finance commissioner (Hutchinson probably can be understood as an English Liberal-Dem). Hatch made several gaffes, including dissing his female running mate, in the last ten days before the election. Pawlenty won a plurality by about one percent of the vote.
As the state tried desperately to balance its books - both when T-Paw as a leader in the legislature, and under his administrations - the gimmicks he came up with were never enough (defer school payments, raid the cigarette settlement fund, etc) so they slashed aid to cities. This aid to cities was a deal made not that long ago to reduce once-onerous property taxes, recognizing that property tax tends to be regressive and hardest on those on fixed incomes.
Well, under eight years of Pawlenty, property taxes have surged. I pay 250% more than when I bought my house in 1996. Two-hundred-and-fifty friggin' percent! Sure, T-Paw can mouth his bogus, "I never raised taxes" claim. In the narrowest, Bill Clinton "I never..." legalist sense of the word, Timmy didn't, I suppose. But ask a retired plumber homeowner who still smokes? He knows the truth.
Most importantly, Pawlenty simply went AWOL during most of his last 18 months in office. He had already concluded that he had no future in Minnesota, so he began traveling the world in preparation for his next job, all while accepting his Minnesota Governor's salary and benefits. Pawlenty will never again be elected to any job (not even dog-catcher) in the state of Minnesota. If nominated, he will certainly be one of the first presidential candidates unable to carry his own state.
No objective observer could possibly see his history as a record of accomplishment. It is hard to believe that his home state's overwhelming disapproval of Pawlenty and his track record will not come to more serious scrutiny as the election cycle progresses.
(Photo: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty strolls the grounds at the Iowa State Fair August 12, 2010 in Des Moines, Iowa. Tim Pawlenty is speculated to be a likely Republican candidate for president in 2012. By Steve Pope/Getty Images)