Posted: 08/26/08 09:11
by Paul Bartlett
The national media has adopted Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty as their darling child du jour. We are continually reminded that Pawlenty was elected twice as a Republican governor in a solid blue state. That superficial analysis is pure nonsense.
Yes, Pawlenty was elected twice, in 2002 and 2006. But, what the national media always fails to mention is that in each election Pawlenty faced two Democrats plus a Green Party candidate in the general election. In 2002, Pawlenty faced Roger Moe (former Minnesota State Senate majority Leader) and Tim Penny (former Democrat Congressman, running as an independent) and the Green Party candidate.
In 2006, Pawlenty faced Mike Hatch (Minnesota Attorney General), highly liberal Peter Hutchinson (former Minneapolis School Superintendent, running as an independent) and the Green Party candidate. In each election, the Democrat/liberal/progressive vote was split between three candidates. Pawlenty won in 2002 with 44.37% of the vote; in 2006 with 46.69%. In neither election did he capture a majority. That's because we were, are and will be a solidly progressive, blue state.
The national media likes to zero in on Pawlenty's affable nature and pleasing smile. As McCain's possible Vice Presidential pick, perhaps you should dig a little deeper. Pawlenty has been a polarizing governor who can claim credit for: overseeing the deterioration of Minnesota's infrastructure (remember the I-35W bridge collapse?), the gutting of our public school system funding, the slashing of local government aids and revenue sharing, the replacement of federally deductible state income taxes with nondeductible user fees, the masking of our growing deficit with accounting gimmicks and misuse of special funds, and his callous use of social wedge issues to divide Minnesotans.
Pawlenty is not a moderate Republican. He is attractive to McCain not because he would pull in swing votes, but because he would appeal to Republican evangelical ideologues.