Timothy James Pawlenty (//; born November 27, 1960) is an American businessman and politician. He was a Republican politician who served as the 39th Governor of Minnesota (2003–2011). He previously served in the Minnesota House of Representatives (1993–2003), where he was majority leader for two terms. In 2011, he entered the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination and later was a potential vice presidential nominee before serving as co-chair of Mitt Romney's campaign.
|39th Governor of Minnesota|
January 6, 2003 – January 3, 2011
|Preceded by||Jesse Ventura|
|Succeeded by||Mark Dayton|
|Chair of the National Governors Association|
July 23, 2007 – July 14, 2008
|Preceded by||Janet Napolitano|
|Succeeded by||Ed Rendell|
|Majority Leader of the Minnesota House of Representatives|
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Ted Winter|
|Succeeded by||Erik Paulsen|
|Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives|
from the 38B district
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Art Seaberg|
|Succeeded by||Lynn Wardlow|
Timothy James Pawlenty
November 27, 1960
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
Mary Anderson (m. 1987)
|Education||University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (BA, JD)|
Pawlenty was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and raised in nearby South St. Paul. He graduated from University of Minnesota with a B.A. in political science and a J.D. His early career included working as a labor law attorney and the vice president of a software as a service company. After settling in the city of Eagan with his wife, Pawlenty was appointed to the city's Planning Commission and was elected to the Eagan City Council at the age of 28. He won a seat as a state representative in 1992, representing District 38B in suburban Dakota County. He was re-elected four times and was voted majority leader by House Republicans in 1998.
After narrowly winning the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2002, Pawlenty won a three-way election for Governor of Minnesota, and was re-elected in 2006 by a margin of less than one percent. His campaign platform focused on balancing the budget without raising taxes. During Pawlenty's governorship, he did not raise income taxes, but did enact targeted increases in sales tax and user fees. His administration advocated for numerous public works projects, including work on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line, and the construction of Target Field, a Major League Baseball stadium in Minneapolis. He signed a bill mandating 20% ethanol in gasoline by 2013. He cut health care costs in an attempt to balance the budget, and borrowed funds from the state's K-12 education and low income programs. He signed an executive order rejecting federal funds related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He also led worldwide trips for business leaders and trade delegations to explore trade opportunities. In the 2007–2008 term, he served as chairman of the National Governors Association.
Pawlenty was rumored to be a contender for both the Republican presidential and vice presidential nominations during the 2008 election, and he officially sought the 2012 Republican presidential nomination from May to August 2011. After withdrawing from that race, he became a finalist to join his party's nominee on the 2012 ticket as its vice presidential candidate. Pawlenty was not selected as Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate, but served as co-chair of Romney's campaign. In September 2012, he left Romney's campaign to become a Washington lobbyist for financial institutions. Pawlenty later sought a third term as Governor of Minnesota in the 2018 election, but lost the Republican primary to Jeff Johnson.
Early life, education, and early career
Pawlenty was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to Eugene Joseph Pawlenty, and his wife, Virginia Frances (née Oldenburg). His father, who drove a milk delivery truck, was of Polish descent, while his mother was of German ancestry. His mother died of cancer when he was 16. Pawlenty grew up in South St. Paul, where he played ice hockey on his high school's junior varsity squad.
Intending to become a dentist, Pawlenty enrolled in the University of Minnesota, the only one in his family to go beyond high school. However, he changed his plans and spent the summers of 1980 and 1982 working as an intern at the office of U.S. Senator David Durenberger. In 1983, he graduated with a B.A. in political science. He received a Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1986. While in law school, he met his wife, Mary Anderson, whom he married in 1987.
Pawlenty first worked as a labor law attorney at the firm Rider Bennett (formerly Rider, Bennett, Egan & Arundel), where he had interned while a law student. He later became vice president of a software as a service company, Wizmo Inc.
Having moved to Eagan, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis – Saint Paul, Pawlenty was appointed to the city's Planning Commission by Mayor Vic Ellison. One year later, at age 28, he was elected to the City Council.
Pawlenty entered state politics in 1990 as a campaign advisor for Jon Grunseth's losing bid for Minnesota governor. After Pawlenty himself became governor, he appointed Grunseth's ex-wife, Vicky Tigwell, to the board of the Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport, an action which became an ethics and accountability issue in 2003.
Minnesota House of Representatives
Pawlenty was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1992, winning 49.1 percent of the vote in District 38B (suburban Dakota County). In the House, he authored bills instituting term limits for committee chairmen, funding for infant parenting classes, minimum sentences for repeat domestic violence offenders, and community notification for sex offenders. In response to a state budget surplus, he advocated for a tax reduction rather than expanded education funding. He was reelected four times and was chosen House Majority Leader when the Republicans became the majority party in the State Legislature in 1998.
In 2002, Pawlenty wanted to run for governor, but party leaders made it clear they favored businessman Brian Sullivan. Pawlenty then decided on the U.S. Senate, but he abandoned those plans when Vice President Dick Cheney asked him to step aside and allow former St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman to challenge Senator Paul Wellstone without Republican primary opposition. Pawlenty returned to his original ambition and won a hard-fought and narrow victory over Sullivan in the Republican party primary election.
In the general election, Pawlenty faced two strong opponents. His main rival was veteran Democratic–Farmer–Labor (DFL) state senator Roger Moe. Former Democratic Congressman Tim Penny ran on the Independence Party ticket (Governor Jesse Ventura, a member of the Independence Party, chose not to seek reelection). Until mid-October 2002, all three were essentially tied in the polls. Pawlenty's major campaign stances included: a pledge not to raise taxes to balance the state's budget deficit (while allowing for increases in license and user fees); that visa expiration dates be required to be printed on driver's licenses; that women seeking an abortion be required to wait at least 24 hours; enactment of a concealed carry gun law; and reform of the state's education requirements. Pawlenty won the election with 43.8 percent of the vote. His largest gains after the October three-way tie were reportedly among voters in the suburbs of Minneapolis–St. Paul.
Governor Pawlenty ran for re-election in 2006. He espoused conservative stands on issues. But conservatives criticized him on funding issues, in particular two pieces of legislation for stadiums for the Gophers and Minnesota Twins, and bond issues for public transit, including the Northstar commuter rail line.
The 2006 gubernatorial race included Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch, of the DFL; Peter Hutchinson of the Independence Party; and Ken Pentel of the Green Party. Pawlenty won, defeating Hatch by a margin of less than one percent, though both the state House and Senate gained DFL majorities.
Pawlenty was elected in 2002 on a platform of balancing the state's budget without raising taxes. He emphasized his campaign and first term with the Taxpayers League of Minnesota slogan "no new taxes." His governorship was characterized by a historically low rate of spending growth. According to the Minnesota Management and Budget Department, general-fund expenditures from 2004 to 2011 increased an average of 3.5 percent per two-year term, compared to an average of 21.1 percent from 1960 to 2003 (these numbers, however, are not inflation-adjusted). University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs said that slowing down state spending and opposing tax increases were the "signature issue" of Pawlenty's governorship.
In his first year as governor, Pawlenty inherited a projected two-year budget deficit of $4.3 billion, the largest in Minnesota's history. After a contentious budget session with a Democrat-controlled Senate, he signed a package of fee increases, spending reductions, and government reorganization which eliminated the deficit. The budget reduced the rate of funding increases for state services, including transportation, social services, and welfare. It also enacted a perennial proposal to restructure city aid based on immediate need, rather than historical factors. In negotiations the governor agreed to several compromises, abandoning a desired public employee wage freeze and property tax restrictions.
During his second term, Pawlenty erased a $2.7-billion deficit by cutting spending, shifting payments, and using one-time federal stimulus money. His final budget (2010–2011) was the state's first two-year period since 1960 in which net government expenditures decreased. Pawlenty has claimed this as "the first time in 150 years" that spending has been cut, but fact-checkers have disputed this claim as no public budget records prior to 1960 are known to exist.
Pawlenty has been criticized by some for providing a short-term budget solution but coming up short in his long-term strategy as governor. The state department of Management and Budget reports that the two-year budget starting in July 2011 is projected to come up $4.4 billion short. Former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, a Republican, criticized Pawlenty's budget strategy: he borrowed more than $1 billion from the tobacco settlement (money set aside for health care), borrowed more than $1.4 billion from K-12 education funding, borrowed more than $400 [million] from the Health Care Access Fund for low-income families, among other short-term shifts in accounting. The result was a $5-billion deficit, the seventh largest in the United States. Minnesota property taxes rose $2.5 billion, more than the previous 16 years combined, and Moody's lowered the state's bond rating. Carlson told Time, "I don't think any governor has left behind a worse financial mess than he [Pawlenty] has." Pawlenty responded, "My friend governor Arne Carlson is, of course, now an Obama and John Kerry supporter."
Minnesota Supreme Court case
While Pawlenty said he was "confident" in his right to use unallotment, the Minnesota Supreme Court ultimately decided against him, voting 4 to 3 in a decision in May 2010. His budget had been the subject of a lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court, which was decided against him. Judge Kathleen Gearin decided Pawlenty exceeded his constitutional authority in making unilateral spending cuts to a $5.3-million special dietary program that he had unalloted. Attorney David Lillehaug said initially, "This is, I don't think it's understating this to say, this is one of the most important court cases in Minnesota legal history." Pawlenty announced the following day that he would appeal; he filed his defense in February, and arguments were heard on March 15. In May, the Supreme Court affirmed Judge Gearin, deciding that "Because the legislative and executive branches never enacted a balanced budget for the 2010–2011 biennium, use of the unallotment power to address the unresolved deficit exceeded the authority granted to the executive branch by the statute". Pawlenty responded:
I will fight to reduce spending and taxes in Minnesota and that battle continues. My commitment to the people of Minnesota remains the same: we will balance the budget without raising taxes.
After the court ruling, as the 2010 legislative session drew to a close, Pawlenty vetoed a budget which would fix a $2.9-billion deficit by adding a new tax bracket for six-figure incomes. In response to the proposal, he criticized Democrats for attempting to raise taxes in the midst of an extremely difficult economic situation. Eventually, due in part to the efforts of House Speaker Margaret Kelliher, who was running for the 2010 Democratic nomination for governor of Minnesota, the General Assembly passed legislation approving nearly all the original unallotments.
Since the Minnesota Constitution prohibits state-run gambling outside of Native territory, Pawlenty proposed negotiating with Minnesota's 11 tribes over profit-sharing of their casinos. Legislators also pushed a proposal to turn Canterbury Park horse track into a racino. The plan was poorly received by Northern Tribes who would operate part of the racino, citing reluctance to compete with other tribes. Tribes with casinos opposed the expanded gambling and some legislators objected on moral grounds that the state shouldn't exploit problem gamblers. Politicians in heavy tribal areas feared losing campaign-finance sources if they supported the plan. Delays by the Legislature ended with the bill being pulled from committee. Tribes had spent millions lobbying legislatures in 2004.
Pawlenty worked throughout 2006 to fund a Minnesota Twins baseball stadium in Minneapolis. The resulting Minnesota Twins-Hennepin County ballpark bill called for an increased county sales tax which passed the state legislature and was symbolically signed in at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The majority of Hennepin County commissioners did not feel a referendum was necessary to approve the sales tax because of the delay it would cause. Pawlenty and the Legislature agreed, citing 10 years already of the project's debate, and exempted the county from state law requiring one in the bill.
In June 2006, Pawlenty signed a $999.9-million public works bill that included funding for additional work on the Northstar Commuter rail line (a change in position from reservations about the idea he initially expressed), an expanded Faribault prison, a bioscience building at the University of Minnesota, and science facilities at Minnesota State University in Mankato. The bill also funded a $26-million expansion of the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.
In 2011, Pawlenty shut down an Islamic finance program, that was part of a larger program to increase home ownership in Minnesota, and his spokesperson said that the program accommodated the Muslim ban on interest. Adam Sorensen from TIME questioned whether this was a case of double standards, pointing out New York's kosher food regulations, Blue Laws that prohibit alcohol sales on Sundays, and Pawlenty's own creation of "The Governor's Council On Faith-Based And Community Initiatives".
In the budget process, Pawlenty made an effort to preserve education funding while cutting other government spending. In 2009, he bolstered education funding using federal stimulus grants. Despite this, education funding fell from $9,700 to $8,400 per student (adjusted for inflation) during his tenure. Pawlenty was an advocate for charter schools and was praised by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools for his education policies. In 2010, the organization rated Minnesota #1 in the country for charter school promotion.
Pawlenty oversaw the repeal of the Profile of Learning Kindergarten through 12th grade graduation requirements and sought to reinstate them during his governorship. Renamed the Minnesota Academic Standards, they were guided by Department of Education commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke. The bill's first draft raised several concerns by the education review boards including the amount of content, age-appropriateness, and a European-centric view of the social sciences portion. Yecke revised and expanded material based on the response. Even as both Legislative houses passed the Academic Standards bill, her confirmation as commissioner was rejected by the DFL majority Minnesota Senate. She was seen as an outsider coming from Virginia and became unpopular for having pushed the academic reforms during a tight budget session as well as her critical look of Minnesota schools. In her confirmation hearing, DFLers also noted concern over her conservative viewpoints.
In June 2006, Pawlenty proposed the ACHIEVE program for the top 25% of high school graduates. The program would pay for tuition for the first 2 years (4 years for selected fields such as science, technology, engineering and math) and would cost the state an estimated $112 million per 2-year cycle. However the program was not included in the 2007 higher education bill.
Pawlenty used an accounting change called a tax shift to balance the state deficit without raising taxes. School districts statewide may unexpectedly lose $58 million in interest and reserve revenue.
In 2010, Pawlenty vetoed a bill (HF 3164), which the legislature had passed 110 to 20, calling for Minnesota State Colleges & Universities (MnSCU) to revamp its credit transferring system within five years to fix "minimal loss of credits for transferring students" who had been losing between 10 and 30 percent of their credits. Pawlenty found it "unnecessary" because MnSCU was fixing its system already "through internal actions and policy changes".
During Pawlenty's first term, urban traffic congestion was a significant concern of voters. He appointed his lieutenant governor, Carol Molnau, as transportation commissioner, for which she was approved by the legislature in May 2004. Molnau attempted to reform the transportation department, (Mn/DOT), using concepts such as "design-build". Legislators criticized Molnau's performance as transportation commissioner, citing ineffective leadership and management, and removed her from that role in February 2008, a decision Pawlenty said was motivated by partisanship.
Pawlenty favored raising fees and imposing toll lanes on roads as the primary means of discouraging excessive traffic. During his term, the carpool lanes of Interstate 394 leading into downtown Minneapolis were converted into high-occupancy toll lanes. Pawlenty used or threatened vetoes in 2005, 2007 and 2008 on legislation funding proposed highway expansion, infrastructure repairs, road maintenance, and mass transit. The 2008 veto was in spite of Pawlenty's announcement that he would consider reversing his opposition to a state gas-tax increase for funding road and bridge repairs, in the wake of the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge.
Pawlenty had opposed the Northstar Commuter Rail as a legislator, but changed his position in 2004, announcing a funding plan to jump-start the project, when the Bush administration determined the rail line was deemed cost-effective and time-saving for commuters.
In April 2008 during the budget bonding bill signing, Pawlenty used his line-item veto on $70 million pledged toward the building of the Central Corridor light-rail project, intended to connect Minneapolis and Saint Paul. In vetoing the expenditure, Pawlenty did not consult Peter Bell, head of the Metro Council and project leader. Pawlenty stated that he vetoed the bill in order to send a message to the Legislature, which had exceeded his initial budget request, that they needed to "stay focused, be fiscally disciplined, set priorities and solve this budget crisis in a fiscally disciplined way." Pawlenty however was supportive of the project and had requested the money in the bonding bill he submitted to the Minnesota State Legislature. The veto disappointed some of Minnesota's congressional representatives in Washington, including Minnesota's Republican Senator Norm Coleman, who pledged to "raise my voice as strong as I can, as loud as I can. The federal commitment is there." Though Pawlenty's veto might have delayed the ability of the state to receive federal matching funds for the project, Bell said the project was not derailed. The Central Corridor funding issue was resolved on May 19, 2008, with the state pledging its original amount towards the project after legislators compromised with Pawlenty's budget requests.
There were Republican state legislators who supported other cuts of the bonding bill, including Doug Magnus, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Finance Division, who praised Pawlenty's "fiscal responsibility." Critics, including Chris Coleman, Mayor of Saint Paul, called Pawlenty's veto "political gamesmanship," seeing the move as retribution for the Legislature's successful override of Pawlenty's veto of a transportation bonding bill. They noted cuts overwhelmingly targeted Democratic districts, and Democratic stronghold Saint Paul most heavily.
Crime in Minnesota was a high-profile political issue during Pawlenty's governorship. When crime rates in Minneapolis spiked 16 percent from 2004 to 2005, city officials blamed Pawlenty for large cuts to state aid, which they said restricted public safety resources. Pawlenty in turn criticized the capital city for poorly allocating its funding.
Pawlenty made two large efforts to expand penalties for sexual offenders. In response to his first proposal in 2005, the state legislature passed a large package of sentencing reforms. One new instrument was the possibility of a life sentence without parole for serious offenders, although Pawlenty expressed disapproval at the courts' reluctance to use this option: only seven individuals received such a sentence in the first two years of implementation. Pawlenty made a push for even harsher sentences in 2010, which increased the presumptive sentence for first-degree sex offenses from 12 years to 25 years and increased it further for repeat offenders. At the same time he advocated for a $90-million expansion of the state's civil commitment program for sexual offenders, maintaining that the increased criminal sentences would keep the commitment program's cost under control. According to a single report in the Star Tribune, "A report on Minnesota's sex-offender program delivered to legislators in the final days of the Pawlenty administration was heavily edited by a top political appointee to reflect the former governor's skepticism about the effectiveness of treatment and to delete arguments for expanded community resources for offenders."
Early in 2006, after issuing a study that estimated the cost of illegal immigration to the state as approximately $188 million, Pawlenty announced a program for changing the way the state dealt with persons who were in the United States illegally. Pawlenty said that the economic benefits of illegal immigration did not justify the illegal behavior. Pawlenty's extensive proposal included the designation of 10 state law enforcement officials as the Minnesota Illegal Immigration Enforcement Team, "trained to question, detain and arrest suspected illegal immigrants" with a focus on "such crimes as human trafficking, identity theft, methamphetamine distribution and terrorism." He rounded out his proposal with tougher penalties for false identification, and instituting a fine of up to $5,000 for employers of illegal immigrants. His proposal was challenged by DFL senators who preferred increased legal immigration to punitive action.
Energy policy and climate change
Minnesota has mandated a 10% mixture of gasoline and ethanol (gasohol) since 1997. Pawlenty signed into law in May 2005 a bill that will raise the minimum mandated mixture to 20% in 2013. Pawlenty has also lobbied the Governors' Ethanol Coalition to mandate higher ethanol use nationwide.
Conservative Republican governors were not supportive of Pawlenty's presentation on clean energy to the governor's association, which he gave in cooperation with Ed Rendell, who was the governor of Pennsylvania and the National Governors Association's Democratic vice-chairman. With Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Pawlenty was co-chairman of the association's energy committee. The effort received "adamant opposition" from governors of petroleum (oil) producing states.
In 2007, Governor Pawlenty signed the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 into law and, along with six other Midwestern governors, the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord. These directed state agencies to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gases, and "develop a market-based and multi-sector cap-and-trade mechanism". However, by 2009 Pawlenty had reversed his position and called cap-and-trade "overly bureaucratic" and a potential "disaster". By 2011, Pawlenty's position had changed sufficiently to state "the weight of the evidence is that most of it, maybe all of it, is because of natural causes."
In 2004, Minnesota's Star Tribune newspaper opined that the credibility of Pawlenty's commissioner of health, Dianne Mandernach, suffered when a website posting by the department suggested that abortion might have a role in breast cancer. She also angered many when it was learned she had delayed releasing government research on cancer in miners. In 2007, Mandernach resigned.
In 2005, Pawlenty asked a U.S. Senate subcommittee to allow his MinnesotaCare health plan to expand and continue allowing state residents and employees to import cheaper Canadian prescription drugs.
In 2007, Pawlenty signed into law the 2007 Omnibus Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill, which provided funding for the Health Care Transformation Task Force, a panel of health care experts charged with exploring ways to reduce health care spending, improve quality, and ensure that Minnesota develops a universal health care plan by 2011.
Later in his tenure he used health care funding cuts as a mechanism to balance the state budget. After years of assuring doctors that the state "sick tax" would be used only to fund health welfare programs, in 2009 Pawlenty recommended a 3% cut in physician reimbursements from the state and asked that the sick tax be put instead into the state's general budget. Pawlenty used a line-item veto to remove $381 million from health and human services funding, a removal which could lead to 35,000 Minnesotans' losing their General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) health insurance in 2011. Hennepin County Medical Center—the largest provider of health care to Minnesota's poor and uninsured—closed two clinics, reduced its staff and reduced access to non-emergency services. State Senator Linda Berglin wrote a bill that would extend GAMC funding.
In 2010, he refused federal health care funds including more than $1 billion to expand the number of Minnesotans covered by Medicaid, $68 million for a high-risk insurance pool, $1 million to help set up an insurance exchange where consumers could shop for health coverage, and $850,000 for teenage pregnancy prevention. Pawlenty accepted a $500,000 abstinence-only sex-education grant that would require $350,000 in matching state money. Pawlenty said, "It doesn't say we have to apply for all of them."
Pawlenty's first term coincided with the deployment of National Guardsmen from numerous states, connected with the War on Terror and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his two terms Pawlenty made trips to Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Kuwait visiting Minnesota troops.
Pawlenty was visited in 2004 by Mexican President Vicente Fox in talks to strengthen trade. Fox announced that his country would open a consulate in Minnesota the next year, removing the need for Mexican residents in the state to travel out of state for identification papers and other materials. In mid-2006, in response to illegal immigration, Pawlenty sent Minnesota National Guardsmen to the U.S.–Mexico border at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Pawlenty took a delegation of nearly 200 Minnesotan business, government, academic and civic leaders on a weeklong trip to China in mid-November 2005. The stated objectives were to provide a forum for companies to acquire market information, assess market potential, evaluate market entry strategies and identify potential business partners, as well as to promote Chinese investment in Minnesota. Pawlenty also led Minnesota trade delegations to Canada in 2003, Poland and the Czech Republic in 2004, India in 2007, and Israel in 2008.
Throughout his eight-year tenure, Pawlenty hosted a weekly one-hour radio show on WCCO-AM, a tradition he inherited from his predecessor as governor, Jesse Ventura. Pawlenty was the chairman of the National Governors Association for the 2007–2008 term. He also served as Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association in 2006.
Beginning in 2005, Pawlenty was rumored in the press as a potential candidate for president of the United States. When formally announcing his candidacy for a second term as Governor of Minnesota on May 31, 2006, Pawlenty said, "As to my future, if I run for governor and win, I will serve out my term for four years as governor." On January 15, 2007, after being reelected, Pawlenty said, "I am committed to serving out my term as governor. That's what I am going to do."
In 2007, it was announced that Pawlenty would be serving in a lead role for McCain as a national co-chair of his presidential exploratory committee which led to Pawlenty's becoming co-chairman of McCain's campaign (along with Phil Gramm and Tom Loeffler). In January 2008, a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune suggested Pawlenty's renewed focus on his proposed immigration reform plans might be politically motivated as counterbalance to McCain's less favorable guest worker program.
For many weeks, Pawlenty was widely considered to be a leading candidate for the vice-presidential nomination on the Republican ticket with John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. In a surprise, McCain chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
In 2008, Pawlenty expressed support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). But in 2010 Pawlenty claimed that he had made those statements solely as a surrogate for presidential nominee McCain and never actually supported the idea himself. On May 23, 2011, Pawlenty formally announced he'd run for the Republican presidential nomination, saying, "politicians are often afraid that if they're too honest, they might lose an election. I'm afraid that in 2012, if we're not honest enough, we may lose our country."
In February 2018, Pawlenty began considering running for election for a third term as Governor of Minnesota in 2018, and started meeting with Republican donors and advisors. Pawlenty announced his candidacy on April 5, 2018. He eventually lost the primary to Jeff Johnson, the Hennepin County Commissioner. Pawlenty's campaign was affected by disparaging statements he made about then presidential candidate Donald Trump. Although Pawlenty eventually declared his support for Trump prior to his campaign for governor, he admitted after his defeat that the "Republican party has shifted" and that he was just not a "Trump-like politician" in the "era of Trump." Pawlenty subsequently stated that he was ending his career in politics.
2012 presidential campaign
In February 2005, ABC News identified him as a potential candidate for president. Pawlenty decided not to seek a third term as governor, and so was not a candidate in the November 2010 gubernatorial election. In July 2009, Public Policy Polling conducted a poll that showed that President Obama was favored to win against Pawlenty in his home state of Minnesota by more than 10 points. In October 2009, a CNN article suggested that Pawlenty was contemplating a 2012 White House bid. Among those advising him in preparation for a potential presidential run was lobbyist and former Congressman Vin Weber.
In late 2009, Pawlenty began taking steps that many saw as leading to a 2012 presidential bid. He visited Iowa in November 2009 and April 2010, making political speeches. In January 2011, the New York Times reported that "Few Americans, in fact, even know his name." In January 2011, Pawlenty told the College Republicans group at The George Washington University "If I decide to run it would be for president, not vice president."
Book tour and political positions
Pawlenty went on tour for his book Courage to Stand, and as of January 18, his book had reached #1,979 on Amazon.com's list of bestsellers. Pawlenty calls himself a social conservative. In his extended interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, he said he thinks United States Social Security and Medicare need to be cut to balance the federal budget. Pawlenty believes that state governments should outlaw abortion, except for cases of rape, incest, and to save a woman's life. He thinks the United States Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade wrongly, abortion being a state, not a federal, matter. He opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions, and said on talk radio "... I have been a public supporter of maintaining Don't ask, don't tell and I would support reinstating it as well".
Pawlenty's tour was in Minneapolis, San Francisco and Dallas, and it ended January in Iowa where the Iowa Caucuses were scheduled for February 6, 2012. "That will come up fast," he said, "if I do run." In Minneapolis, speaking to Pat Kessler of WCCO-TV who asked about his feelings regarding a potential run for president by Representative Michele Bachmann, "I have a lot of respect for Michele Bachmann … Whether she runs or not, it's gonna be a big field. There's gonna be five, six, seven, eight people running … Whoever wants to run can run. The more, the merrier."
In a December 2010 column in The Wall Street Journal, Pawlenty argued in favor of the historical benefits of "private sector" labor unions and strongly against "public sector" labor unions, whose collective bargaining rights he would like to see curbed: "The rise of the labor movement in the early 20th century was a triumph for America's working class. In an era of deep economic anxiety, unions stood up for hard-working but vulnerable families, protecting them from physical and economic exploitation." He also criticized modern unions: "The moral case for unions—protecting working families from exploitation—does not apply to public employment... Unionized public employees are making more money, receiving more generous benefits, and enjoying greater job security than the working families forced to pay for it with ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt."
On April 12, 2011, Pawlenty said clearly on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight that he was "running for president" and not for vice president, adding that a formal announcement would be given in several weeks. On Twitter, his spokesman said CNN took his comments out of context.
On May 23, 2011, Pawlenty launched his candidacy for president in a speech in Iowa stating: "I'm going to try something a little unusual in politics. I'm just going to tell the truth." A YouTube video appeared a day before. The Wall Street Journal wrote of his candidacy, and the luck he experienced in the GOP's field, that Pawlenty has a "golden chance to become the chief rival to... Mitt Romney".
Pawlenty finished third in the Ames Straw Poll on August 13, 2011, behind the winner Michele Bachmann and the runner-up Ron Paul. Before the Ames debate, he took a more aggressive stance against Romney, including the coining the term "Obamneycare". When pressed by John King during CNN's June 13, 2011 debate to address why he used the word, he backed off. However, he denied that he backed off. The following day he announced his decision to withdraw from the presidential race. On September 12, 2011, Pawlenty announced his endorsement of former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, as well as his position as national co-chair for Romney's campaign. Romney retired over $400,000 of Pawlenty's campaign debt.
Financial Services Roundtable
On September 20, 2012, Pawlenty's advisor Brian McClung announced to Associated Press that Pawlenty would resign as the co-chairman of Mitt Romney's electoral campaign. He was to head the Financial Services Roundtable (FSR), a financial service industry lobby group in Washington, D.C. He would not be running in the 2014 gubernatorial election in Minnesota nor in the state's 2014 senatorial election. He assumed the positions of President & CEO. He replaced Steve Bartlett, a former U.S. Representative from Texas who had held the positions since 1999.
In November 2012, Pawlenty said that "Republicans and Democrats will have to reconcile their differences on spending and taxes because the 'walls of reality are closing in on them'" relative to the federal government's looming "fiscal cliff". Presenting himself as not from Wall Street or from Washington and, having previously criticized "entrenched financial interests", he said he could "bring a fresh and new voice to those debates". He also "refuted assertions that implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, legislation enacted roughly 27 months [earlier] in response to the financial crisis, ha[d] been delayed because of lobbying".
Pawlenty and his wife Mary have two daughters, Anna and Mara. Mary was appointed as a judge of the Dakota County District Court in Hastings, Minnesota, in 1994. After he was elected governor in 2002, the family remained at their Eagan home instead of moving into the Governor's residence because of his wife's requirement to live in her judicial district. In 2007, she left her judicial position to become General Counsel of the National Arbitration Forum, a dispute-resolution company based in Minneapolis. She stayed on only briefly before departing for another dispute-resolution company, the Gilbert Mediation Center.
Pawlenty was raised a Roman Catholic. His conversion to an Evangelical Protestant faith has been attributed to his wife Mary, who is a member of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a member congregation of the Minnesota Baptist Conference. In a January 2011 interview, Mr. Pawlenty stated, "I love and respect and admire the Catholic Church. I still attend Mass once in a while there. The church I now attend is an interdenominational church which has got many former Catholics in it, and so we share the Christian faith and the Bible. I had to reconcile my faith life with my wife so we could have a consistent, integrated family faith life."
Pawlenty is generally considered a conservative on the American political spectrum. With regard to his economic record, he has drawn mixed reviews from fiscally conservative interest groups. The lobbying group Taxpayers League of Minnesota gave Pawlenty an average approval score of 80% during his years as a state legislator, while the Cato Institute think-tank gave him scores ranging from C to A across his eight years as governor. In February 2008, Washington Post columnist Robert Novak wrote that Pawlenty was the most conservative Minnesota governor since Governor Theodore Christianson in the 1920s. A 2011 white paper by the Club for Growth, analyzing Pawlenty as a presidential candidate, found his political stance difficult to identify. The group praised him for reduced growth in spending and taxation, but found that he "has some simply inexcusable tax hikes in his record" and questioned his support of proposals such as "mandatory vegetable oil in gasoline, cap and trade, and a statewide smoking ban." Chris Edwards, a director at Cato, speculated that Pawlenty's rightward tack in his second term was related to his impending presidential run. In Pawlenty's 2018 Minnesota gubernatorial campaign, he received an A rating from the National Rifle Association, supports permit-to-carry laws, and is open to an optional background check for private firearm sales.
Pawlenty voted for President Donald Trump and "support[s] most of what's he's doing, nearly all of what he's doing on a policy level." In 2016 Pawlenty had expressed disapproval of Trump's "comments and language and behavior", calling the president "unsound, uninformed, unhinged and unfit" during his campaign. Pawlenty stated that since the election, "he's made a lot of great progress as leader of our country and president of the United States in terms of policy priorities and the outcomes."
In April 2009, 46% of Minnesotans approved of Pawlenty, while 40% disapproved. Among registered Republicans nationwide in July 2009, 38% had a favorable view of him while 33% didn't according to a Rasmussen Reports survey. In March 2010 42% of Minnesotans approved of Pawlenty, while 52% disapproved.
In October 2010 a Rasmussen report showed that Pawlenty had a 49% approval rating among Minnesotans with 49% disapproving. A March 2011 survey by Gallup stated that Pawlenty began his Presidential run with only 41% name recognition in the GOP. Also in March 2011, the Public Policy Polling (PPP) agency found that nationwide voters had a net negative view of Pawlenty, with 15% viewing him favorably verses 33% unfavorably. In a 2011 PPP poll of registered Minnesota voters conducted from May 27–30, 42% of Minnesotans had a favorable opinion of Pawlenty, while 52% had an unfavorable opinion of him. In the presidential race, President Obama lead Pawlenty by 51% to 43%, suggesting Pawlenty could lose his home state to President Obama were he the 2012 GOP nominee.
|1992||Tim Pawlenty||9,610||49.1%||Linda Rother||8,773||44.8%||James Russell McMahon||253||1.3%||19,583|||
|1998||Tim Pawlenty||9,118||48.5%||Leo Brisbois||7,819||41.6%||None||18,809|||
|2000||Tim Pawlenty||13,779||59.6%||Gary Moore||7,239||31.3%||None||23,100|||
|2002||Tim Pawlenty||999,473||43.8%||Roger Moe||821,268||36.0%||Tim Penny||364,534||16.0%||Ken Pentel||50,589||2.2%||2,282,860|||
|2006||Tim Pawlenty||1,028,568||46.4%||Mike Hatch||1,007,460||45.4%||Peter Hutchinson||141,735||6.4%||Ken Pentel||10,800||0.5%||2,217,818|||
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tim Pawlenty.|
- Tim Pawlenty at Curlie
- Tim Pawlenty at Minnesota Legislators Past & Present
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Campaign contributions at Follow the Money (U.S. House)
- Campaign 2002 – Minnesota Governor Minnesota Public Radio
- Campaign 2006 – Tim Pawlenty Minnesota Public Radio
|Minnesota House of Representatives|
| Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from District 38B
| Majority Leader of the Minnesota House of Representatives
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for Governor of Minnesota
| Governor of Minnesota
| Chair of National Governors Association