Despite having “won” his battle here in Minnesota, T-Paw the presidential candidate is having a pretty rough couple of weeks. So-so to poor fund-raising, discouraging polls, and now even Carol Molnau is dumping on him. The Huffington Post writes: “Carol Molnau was Pawlenty’s lieutenant governor in Minnesota for the entirety of his two terms as governor. In an interview, she said that Pawlenty has never been willing to keep close aides who are willing to criticize him. ‘He has a tendency to not be a good judge of what he needs,’ Molnau said. ‘A lot of us like to have people around us that think like we do and agree with us because we don’t take criticism very well. Well that’s a good thing because you don’t have a lot of white water conflict. The thing is you never know when you’re going off because everyone’s afraid to tell you, or, the people who do, you don’t see as trustworthy anymore.’ ‘He surrounds himself with people that say ‘yes’ and tell him how good he’s doing, but he doesn’t have a lot of people who can take the chance at critiquing him, and that’s a problem he’s had for a long time,” Molnau added. The Pawlenty campaign declined to comment when asked about this criticism.”
Mark Zdechlik of MPR blogs on those New Hampshire poll numbers: “The latest WMUR Granite State Poll shows 35 percent of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire say they would vote for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann holds a distant second place in the poll with 12 percent. But Bachmann is the only other candidate who registered support in the double digits. Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 7 percent. Former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had just 3 percent.” And last time I checked, Palin, still “employed” by FoxNews, is not even running.
And that cur, Vin Weber, suggesting that a serious constitutional scholar like Our Favorite Congresswoman is benefiting from her, uh, “attractiveness”! Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times writes: “Vin Weber, a top adviser to Tim Pawlenty’s Republican presidential campaign, issued an apology on Wednesday evening after declaring that Michele Bachmann’s candidacy was catching on, in part, because ‘she’s got a little sex appeal.’ Mr. Weber, a former member of Congress from Minnesota who served as co-chairman of Mr. Pawlenty’s political action committee, made his initial remarks during an interview with The Hill newspaper. He said that Mrs. Bachmann would be ‘very hard to beat’ in Iowa, the state that opens the presidential nominating contest. ‘She’s got hometown appeal, she’s got ideological appeal,’ Mr. Weber said. ‘And, I hate to say it, but she’s got a little sex appeal too.’ ” That is SO outrageous, How would Weber like it if one of Bachmann’s people said T-Paw was trading on his resemblance to one of the sweaty junior execs on “Mad Men”?
Charley Shaw of Politics in Minnesota lays out a picture of what went on last week under the “cone of silence” (TM Maxwell Smart): “Beneath the acrimony that followed the breakdown of negotiations, a fairly clear picture of the talks and of the bargaining chips in play nonetheless emerged. As the state counted down to its second government shutdown in six years, both sides made striking departures from their original positions. Republicans made offers that spent more than their long-entrenched $34.2 billion bottom line; Dayton made offers that involved forsaking all or part of his desired upper-bracket income tax increase. But the major revenue source on which the two sides came closest to agreement involved new debt, not new taxes: Over the 24-hour period leading up to the shutdown that started at 12:01 a.m. Friday, both the Legislature and the governor made proposals that included major expansions of the K-12 spending shift. Under the terms of those offers, the state (which already owes schools some $1.9 billion in payments that were deferred as part of the 2010-11 budget agreement) would have increased the school shift by anywhere from $350 million to $1.4 billion. Besides the enlarged shift, two other main elements remained on the table as the clock expired on pre-shutdown talks: a Dayton proposal to raise about $750 million in new upper-bracket tax revenue on incomes over $1 million a year, and a GOP proposal to raise several hundred million dollars more in one-time revenues — no exact figure was specified — by selling the proceeds of future tobacco company payments to the state in conjunction with the settlement reached in a 1998 lawsuit.”
Wednesday‘s shutdown negotiations, such as they were, are described by David Bailey of Reuters. It is not encouraging: “Minnesota’s Democratic Governor Mark Dayton offered two proposals on Wednesday to end a budget impasse and government shutdown, but Republicans rejected the ideas as a step backward. Dayton proposed a temporary income tax increase on people making more than $1 million per year or a $1 per pack tobacco tax increase along with healthcare surcharges and a delay in school aid payments. He said this would close an estimated gap of $1.4 billion between his spending plans and Republicans. ‘What we have maintained all along … it has always been about spending,’ Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers told reporters afterward. ‘Adding additional tax increases at this point it is pretty clear to us things went backward today.’ “
James Hohmann of Politico adds: “Dayton expressed surprise about the visceral response of Republicans to his new plan. Republicans quickly circulated a Dayton quote from last fall’s governor’s race when he criticized a proposal by third-party candidate Tom Horner to raise the cigarette tax by $1.50-per-pack. ‘You raise the price of a pack of cigarettes $1.50 as Mr. Horner proposed, that’s money out of the pockets of working people and poorer people, and that means kids don’t have as much to eat or don’t have the same quality of food,’ Dayton said then. ‘Those are addictions, and I think you treat addictions as addictions and you don’t penalize the people who are dealing with them economically.’ The governor complained Wednesday that Republicans would like to use bonds to borrow against future payments from a tobacco settlement to close the gap instead of addressing the problem head on now.”
A piece by Mark Sommerhauser of the St. Cloud Times is picked up by USA Today: “State officials say they won’t be able to calculate the shutdown’s full cost until it’s over, but they have quantified some of the notable losses: $1.25 million a day on the lottery, $1 million a week on state parks, $52 million a month in uncollected tax revenue that idled state auditors would have brought in. The cost of other shutdown casualties — including 100 road construction projects — has yet to be calculated.
‘Nobody believes the state is saving money,’ said John Pollard, spokesman for Minnesota Management and Budget, the state’s finance agency. State parks are losing $1 million a week in camping fees, park passes, concessions and gift shop sales, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.”
The view from Power Line’s Scott Johnson comes via his exclusive half-hour chat with Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. Says Johnson: “I asked Senator Koch about the ‘council of wise men’ convened by former Vice President Mondale and former Governor Carlson. The committee was being announced as we spoke. She said that she was willing to listen to anyone who had an idea about how to resolve the impasse, but that there were three parties at the table who needed to reach agreement. She would not say anything disrespectful of the concept, but I sense that her attitude is not too far from that of the statement issued by the Minnesota Republican Party. Incidentally, if the committee were a Broadway show, it would be closing today.” Then he goes on to rip the Strib’s Rachel Stassen-Berger again.
My blogging colleague, Joe Loveland (who I encourage you to read on a regular basis), goes after the GOP’s “jobs” agenda in his post at The Same Rowdy Crowd. Intones Joe: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to bid a fond farewell to a special friend who was taken from our loving embrace too soon, due to a senseless act of self-destruction that none of us will ever be able to understand. In the dark days of the campaign of 2010, her birth lit up the lives of every gullible Minnesotan she touched. Yes, it seems like only yesterday when a buoyant Republican House Speaker in waiting Kurt Zellers prophesied her destiny:
‘If it isn’t about jobs, improving the business climate, it’s not a priority.’
… The cruel disease that ravaged the beloved GOP ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ message is known in professional circles as ‘message creep.’ Little by little what you oughta say and do is replaced by what special interests demand you say and do, until suddenly you wake up, and your previously successful message has been completely drowned out, by you. It’s what is known as an autoimmune disease, where the body actually attacks its own cells. The results obviously aren’t pretty.”