In our article The Two Realities of Tim Pawlenty, we highlighted former Governor Tim Pawlenty’s (R-MN) perpetual deficits and how this could affect him if he were a general election candidate. Now the question is can he get to the ballot in November? As the convention, on the Republican side moves forward, it is significantly different than on the DFL side. Republicans are organized into Basic Party Organizational Units (BPOU’s). In a BPOU the delegates are not identified as supporting a specific candidate, but often the various campaigns will advance a slate and once elected those delegates move forward to the Congressional District and State Endorsing Conventions. These delegates are not bound either by the Caucus Night Preferential Ballot or the activities at the BPOU.
Since Pawlenty is not yet an announced candidate, there is a Waiting for Godot factor. If he was to enter now, he can attempt to cultivate support from the existing delegate pool, but may find he is amongst a group of fire-brands, now loyal to Donald J Trump, which is not the same type of delegate base he survived a 10-ballot endorsement fight with Businessman Brain Sullivan (R-MN) in 2006.
As we read Friday’s Star Tribune Op/Ed by University of MN Professor Larry Jacobs entitled A Pawlenty Sequel. Here’s the Rub we found him to poses a number of interesting questions, which we also have been plying. The type of person who shows up in the convention process is essential.
Some may be more oriented to Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R) who may be more strident than someone who is open to a Pawlenty candidacy, despite the fact he lost the last contest to Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN) in 2014 on a 50.07% to 44.51% margin.
The question is will Pawlenty even contend in the GOP Party process, or forgo it all together and head straight to the primary. If he does, again he may find himself a man without a country (Party) because the complexion of a GOP Primary voter may have also dramatically changed.
It is possible Pawlenty’s best bet is to run as a third-party candidate and muck up the works, which is exactly what Tim Penny (IP-MN) did in 2002 and Peter Hutchinson (IP-MN) did in 2006. Providing Pawlenty with plurality victories of 44.37% and 46.69% respectively.