Pawlenty's announcement makes a crowded field for 2010


Gov. Tim Pawlenty made at least one of his long-term plans clear Tuesday afternoon: He won't seek a third term as the state's leading man.

The announcement was no shocker to anyone who expects he has his eyes set higher or who realizes Pawlenty would have a slim chance at reelection if he tried.

But that doesn't matter, because it's now officially speculation time. Well first we can reflect on Pawlenty and then start making up ridiculously long list of potential candidates who might be planning a run for his seat.

Check out the roundup of Pawlenty coverage below.

The Star Tribune makes the most obvious point in some of their analysis: This isn't the last of Pawlenty. While he has some straightforward Republican ideals, such as reducing spending and taxes, he also never managed to gain a majority of the vote in either of his races. His lame duck status could either be a blessing or his downfall if he hopes to run for president in 2012.

MinnPost's Eric Black analyzed Pawlenty's speech and mentioned how impressed he is by Pawlenty's political talent.

Today, he wouldn't even acknowledge that he might run for president, but if he does -- and the odds are he will -- he will start out behind many of his rivals in money and name recognition, but well ahead in two other important political ingredients: likeability and authenticity.
Sarah Janecek of Politics in Minnesota praised Pawlenty for his work as governor. "In my view, Pawlenty has done an extraordinary job. You won't hear that from the Capitol insider crowd, but the public has spoken volumes in polls over the years." Read her reasoning here. PIM also fact checks the accomplishments he mentioned during his speech.

Of course the people on the left have more than a few words to say about the governor as he plans to part ways.

MNPublius's Zack Stephenson said the announcement was no shocker. He thinks Pawlenty held back on his announcement so he wouldn't be accused of being a lame duck during the tough legislative session. Fair enough. Jeff Rosenberg accuses Pawlenty of destroying the state's budget and leaving just in time to not have to pick up the mess he leaves behind.

Governor Pawlenty's policies over the past six years have done a lot of damage to Minnesota, and his decision to unilaterally defund the Minnesota budget this year will make things even worse. Fortunately, he's got a plan: Escape from Minnesota and run for president, while leaving Minnesotans to clean up the pieces.

After all, which would you choose: running for the highest office in the country, or being forced to face the consequences of this biennium's budget when the schools demand their $1.7 billion in "delayed payments?"

Americans United for Change, which has been trying to pressure Pawlenty to sign the election certificate for Al Franken so he can be seated in the U.S. Senate reacted quickly to the news to point out that Pawlenty has no interest in helping Minnesotans and can therefore delay this race as long as he pleases to win over Republicans.
Donald McFarland, Minnesota State Director, Americans United for Change: "Tim Pawlenty's national political ambitions have become clear with his reported decision not to seek reelection -- but he is still the governor of Minnesota. Gov. Pawlenty, the Iowa caucuses can wait - the people of Minnesota need you now. During these extraordinarily difficult economic times, we cannot afford to be without full representation in the Senate a day longer. We implore the Governor to sign the election certificate should the Minnesota Supreme Court rule in Al Franken's favor. Refusing to do so would be an act of political cowardice that will unfairly punish the people of Minnesota."
And now comes the speculation of who will take his place.

Minnesota Public Radio has a running list of possible candidates on the Republican side:

After Pawlenty made his announcement, top legislative Republicans, including House Minority Leader Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester and Sen. Michelle Fischback, R-Paynesville held a brief news conference to praise Pawlenty.

When asked to raise their hands if they were not considering a run for governor, none did.

Others on the list include former Congressman Jim Ramstad, former Minnesota House Speaker and current Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Steve Sviggum and businessman Brian Sullivan. The three could not be reached for comment for this story. Another former legislator, and candidate for Attorney General, Charlie Weaver, said he's open to running but said he has to consider family obligations.

And for the Democrats:
As many as eleven Democrats are either running or are considering a run for governor. State Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook, former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, former state Sen. Steve Kelley, former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, state Sen. John Marty of Roseville and state Rep. Paul Thissen of Minneapolis are officially in the race. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, state Sen. Tarryl Clark of St. Cloud and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman are also seen as a potential candidates.
The Pioneer Press and Star Tribune also have similar lists.

While we mentioned Rep. Michele Bachmann seems to be out of the running, local political expert Larry Jacobs says her campaign manager's statements leave the door open for a run, says CQ.

"I do not anticipate Congresswoman Bachmann will be running for Governor," spokeswoman Debbee Keller told CQ in an e-mail. "She is very happy representing the people of Minnesota's Sixth District in the U.S. Congress."

That statement does seem to leave some wiggle room, and, as University of Minnesota's Lawrence Jacobs noted, Bachmann "is someone who would do very well in terms of the party's endorsement process." The challenge for the congresswoman would be winning over enough moderates in the Democratic-leaning state in the general election.

And the University of Minnesota Smart Politics blog makes the case for former Rep. Jim Ramstad, who retired from Congress this year.
Ramstad, in many ways, would be the nightmare candidate for the DFL - a liberal Republican with a cool temperament and strong name recognition, especially in the Metro area, with moderate to liberal stances on a number of social issues that would undoubtedly take several of the sharpest arrows out of the quiver of whomever emerges as the DFL nominee.