Originally posted April 20, 2001
When the Vice-President of the United States calls someone who may believe is the person actually in charge, you stop and take notice. So seems to have been with the state House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty (R – 38B, Eagan). Pawlenty held a non-announcement press conference on Wednesday to inform people he was not moving forward with his U.S. Senatorial exploratory campaign. In his comments he makes it clear if Dick Cheney had not called, he would have announced just the opposite.
This marks the second occasion where Pawlenty has either been the good soldier or taken a backseat to Norm Coleman. He did the same in 1998 when he bowed out of the Governor’s contest and endorsed Coleman. At the time many believed Pawlenty would have been the best choice for a Lt. Governor, but the party forces, specifically then Party Chairman Bill Cooper foisted state Sen. Gen Olson (R – 34, Minnetrista) into the mix.
Now the next announcement awaited from Pawlenty is his decision on a bid for Governor. The competition seems less weighty in a contest between Pawlenty and Brian Sullivan. One interesting item that has come our way is Sullivan was originally considering a run for the U.S. Senate, using the now so common “Millionaires financing plan”, until Cooper talked him into running for Governor. The reason is Cooper wanted to assist in a direct shot at Coleman and hopefully a defeat. It looks like there is some bad blood between them and it is evident from comments he has made in the newspapers.
The numbers we have obtained from the Coleman camp seem to show this was actually a Sullivan pipedream and Pawlenty should take heart. In a survey of delegates over 1500 delegates and alternates to the 2000 Republican Convention, drawn from a universe of 4000, found Coleman leading Sullivan 55% to not quite 11%. This should bolster any decision by Pawlenty to seek the Governor’s post should he be able to build support among the delegate base.
Now Pawlenty will need to decide if he is willing to buck Cooper and Chris Georgacas and their efforts to back him in the Senate race and run against their candidate Sullivan. The problem for many people who are interested in ascending up the political ladder is the political void between this election and the next statewide political election in 2006. These four years will hang like an eternity.
Pawlenty’s opportunities are not so bleak if he just bides his time. He may just become Speaker of the House. Of course, that is if the Republicans can maintain control.