Pawlenty: Plugged in to power company cash

When Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that he would eschew public financing for his re-election campaign--thereby avoiding those pesky spending limits--he sent a clear signal to all Minnesotans: Gird yourself for another collosal TV ad season. The decision also served to underscore Pawlenty's confidence that he will crush Attorney General Mike Hatch in the race for dollars. So far, that confidence appears to be well-placed. Pawlenty currently has twice the cash on hand as his DFL rival.

One explanation for this is Pawlenty's popularity within the business community--and Hatch's corresponding unpopularity within the same. In some sectors of the economy, in fact, Pawlenty seems to have developed an absolute deadlock on support. Case in point: the utility business.

According to filings with the Campaign Financing and Lobbying Board, Pawlenty has raised $14,350 from 19 employees of Xcel Energy, the state's largest power provider. How much did Xcel employees shell out in support of Hatch? That would be the easily tallied sum of zero dollars. (Hatch also received no contributions from employees of Great River Energy, the state's second largest power provider, or Allete, the third largest).

That Xcel folk don't seem to care for Hatch is understandable in light of the acrimonious history between the utility and the AG. Over the past few years, Hatch has accused Xcel of pocketing tax breaks that should have gone to consumers, opposed rate hikes and, in the wake of widespread storm-related power outages, called for the creation of quality service standards. This is how they thank him.

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