WASHINGTON — Tim Pawlenty’s camp outlined his involvement in the Minnesota governor’s race today, as the governor and presidential aspirant seeks to blunt any potential blowback that might come if the GOP doesn’t wind up holding his seat.
The potential problem is simply stated: It was a very good year for Republicans nationally, and in Minnesota in many other races. The DFL’s Mark Dayton and Independence Party’s Tom Horner ran hard on saying that GOPer Tom Emmer would be Pawlenty version 2.0. Dayton leads Emmer, and if something doesn’t dramatically change in the recount, will flip the governorship from red to blue. Ergo, Pawlenty might be perceived as a drag on the ticket in his home state, which would be bad for his own (presumed) presidential aspirations for somewhat obvious reasons.
POLITICO quotes two Republican power brokers complimentary of Pawlenty who make his case:
Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governors Association (RGA): “There wasn’t a political prognosticator saying we could hold Minnesota in August and around Labor Day, and Gov. Pawlenty said, ‘I know how we can make this thing competitive. Through his guidance and direction, this thing became a real nail-biter.”
Charlie Weaver, Pawlenty’s former chief of staff: “His efforts over the last two weeks to bring back home the base to Emmer were critical. Not enough, but absent the governor’s help it wouldn’t have even been close.”
Pawlenty’s involvement is catalogued as follows:
- He convinced the RGA to cough up $2 million when Emmer was down in the polls by double digits.
- His results elsewhere are a testament to his impact in races: 14-7 in gubernatorial contests, 15-6 in Senate races, 42-14 in House contests.
- He might have gotten heavily involved quite late (in mid-October), but when he did it was high-impact stuff. Organizing a rally with GOP stars Chris Christie and Haley Barbour, and a closing round-the-state tour with Emmer.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that even though Pawlenty didn’t really dive headlong into the campaign until less than a month to go, he was a central figure in it from day one, with ads aplenty from Dems and Dem-leaning groups that tried to tie Emmer (and to a lesser extent the IP’s Tom Horner) to Pawlenty.
It should also be pointed out that, as the AP’s Brian Bakst noted on Twitter, that Pawlenty refuted claims before his heavy involvement that he was being passive in his Emmer supporting. This would be a “new tune,” as Bakst put it.
I reached out to TPaw’s camp and will let you know what I hear back.