Republican candidate for governor Tom Emmer and current Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty haven’t exactly been pals in the past. Emmer skipped caucus meetings with Pawlenty at the Capitol. Emmer’s former opponent and Republican Minority Leader Marty Seifert was seen as being much closer to Pawlenty and Seifert campaigned on those connections. So what triggered the weekend endorsement of Emmer? Perhaps it’s no coincidence political scientists called out the governor on statewide television.
On Almanac Friday, U of M Political Scientist Larry Jacobs said polling shows about a third of partisans defecting which led him to ask “Where’s Tim Pawlenty? Isn’t it peculiar Pawlenty has not shown up in this gubernatorial race which either is a story about a division between the Emmer campaign and Pawlenty or it’s a story of Tim Pawlenty being unpopular even among Republicans.” Hamline’s David Schultz disagreed with Jacobs regarding Emmer and DFLer Mark Dayton “both the candidates are doing fairly well at holding their bases… which doesn’t bode well for Horner.” Jacobs pointed out “It’s about ten out of the last eleven polls that have not shown Emmer in the lead.”
On Sunday the state Republican Party released a statement from the governor saying: “Nobody understands the danger of raising taxes better than Republicans, which is why my party is so energized in Minnesota and across the nation. Republicans of all stripes – moderate, conservative, and libertarian – agree with Tom Emmer’s central principles: government must live within its means; we cannot raise taxes if we want to preserve existing jobs and create new jobs; and government must be reformed.”
But Pawlenty also took a shot at the Independence Party candidate adding “I’ve known Tom Horner for 30 years, and while he’s a decent man, his proposals to raise billions in new taxes and allow government to grow unsustainably will take Minnesota in the wrong direction. Any Republican who votes for Tom Horner is not only helping Mark Dayton become governor, but casting a vote to undo the tax and spending cuts we’ve fought so hard for over the last 8 years.”
Later Sunday Horner responded with “Gov. Pawlenty is a decent person, but his policies have left Minnesota with job creation that has lagged the nation during much of the last decade, in good years and bad. That’s not a record Minnesota can afford in the next four years. The most telling part of the endorsement, though, is that the Republican nominee hasn’t been able to secure the endorsement of a Republican governor until little more than three weeks left in the campaign. It speaks volumes about the reluctance of Gov. Pawlenty to jeopardize his national ambitions by tying himself to a gubernatorial candidate who increasingly is the choice only of Palin-Bachmann Republicans.”