If recount forces extended term, Pawlenty says he’ll make needed decisions but won’t seek out new issues

Will Tim Pawlenty be able to wave farewell to governor's office on Jan. 3?
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Will Tim Pawlenty be able to wave farewell to governor’s office on Jan. 3?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty seems like a man eager to leave his job and get on with his future.

“I earnestly, genuinely hope it is resolved by Jan. 3,” Pawlenty said today of the process that ultimately will lead to his successor.

Jan. 3 is the date a new governor is to be sworn in. But given the probability of a recount, there’s a good chance Minnesotans won’t know by that time whether Mark Dayton or Tom Emmer is going to succeed Pawlenty.

The governor said he has calls out to the candidates and will offer private meetings with each of them, meetings he hope will make the transition process easier for whoever is the eventual winner.

Until there is resolution to this race, Pawlenty said he will fulfill his constitutional obligation to remain in office.

“In that event, I will address matters as they arise and need to be addressed,” Pawlenty said.

That sounded like the governor will resist any temptation there might be to work with the new Republican majority and quickly move through an agenda that might be blocked if, as seems likely, Dayton finally ends up as governor.

“If issues arise, I’d have to address them,” Pawlenty said. “I won’t go out looking for them.”

Dayton has raised Jan. 15 as the first key date for the next governor. That’s the deadline the last Legislature, which was DFL-controlled, set for the new governor to opt into a federal health program that Dayton and other DFLers believe would bring more than $1 billion into the state. Pawlenty rejected the program. Emmer has said he would, too.

Asked today about the Jan. 15 date, Pawlenty said he wouldn’t change his mind.

“But it’s a deadline the [new] Legislature could re-create,” said Pawlenty.

Given the new makeup of the Legislature, though, that seems unlikely. Many of the new class of Republican legislators were elected, in part, because of opposition to “Obama-care.”

The next big date for any governor is Feb. 3, the required deadline for a governor to submit a budget proposal to the Legislature.

If a recount process is still going on at that time, Pawlenty’s administration would be required to create the budget proposal, which would be very different from one proposed by Dayton.

On the subject of the recount, Pawlenty sounded more like Dayton than his Republican Party’s state chairman, Tony Sutton.

“There is a process in place,” he said. “It will be transparent, open and fair.”

When asked if he trusts Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Pawlenty did a little two-step around the question.

The new recount legislation (passed last session) means, he said, that everybody “will be under such bright lights” that nobody could get away with cheating.

In talking with the local media, Pawlenty typically has been more calm about the integrity of Minnesota’s voting than he has when appearing on national television and radio programs. On those shows, he often has spread rumors about voting irregularities that have had no basis in fact.

He did mention today that among the outcomes of the Franken-Coleman recount were “troubling” revelations of felons voting: “Those were isolated cases – we hope.” He also said there were “other allegations.”

Asked about Sutton’s strident remarks about the integrity of the system, Pawlenty did more dancing. Although he mostly talked about the integrity of the system, he mentioned “that issue in Hennepin County,” where a mistake in reporting vote tabulations was found – and publicly corrected – on Election Night. Pawlenty suggested Sutton might have information on voting irregularities that he doesn’t have.

Mostly, however, Pawlenty talked about packing up and moving on. (It’s been anticipated by some that he’ll announce he’s officially in the race for the Republican presidential nomination sometime in January, when his campaign biography is to be released. Pawlenty has said he would make a decision sometime in the first quarter of 2011.)

If Dayton does end up as governor, would Pawlenty have any advice for him in how to deal with a Legislature of the opposing party?

“I got most of what I wanted,” Pawlenty said. “I don’t know if I’d give him advice.”

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Rod Loper on 11/05/2010 - 04:45 am.

    I expect Dayton will show more respect for his opposition than Pawlenty did. He will conduct himself with class as we Minnesotans expect.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/05/2010 - 06:44 am.

    Please pardon my skepticism, but I suspect King Timmy is being disingenuous. In saying he will only deal with issues as they come up, he’s just saying that he’s depending on the legislature to bring these things up, which, given the chance they will do.

    They’ll rapidly enact legislation that de-funds the public school systems, the colleges and universities, reduces the size of the state bureaucracy, wipes out LGA, and further reduces reimbursement for nursing homes (all of which causes massive layoffs and drives Minnesota’s economy into far deeper recession).

    Meanwhile they’ll “privatize” major government functions, handing off whole departments to wealthy friends, who will have to create from nothing the systems required to carry out those government functions while collecting millions from the public treasury (leaving some government parts of the government not functioning at all).

    All these privatized government bureaus will involve very poorly paid employees. Don’t be surprised if, in the very near future, when you call a government office, you get a call center in some other country staffed with poorly trained and absolutely un-helpful employees. Of course the management of these companies will live like Lord and Ladies on the taxpayer’s dime while their “privatized” government agencies will cost the state taxpayers far more than the original public bureaucracies ever cost, and offer levels of bad service which will make the longest lines at the old DMV seem like a walk in the park on a sunny day by comparison.

    Of course what King Timmy means is that he won’t be bringing any of this up. He’ll just be signing anything the legislature sends his way, no matter how destructive for the state, the moment it hits his desk.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/05/2010 - 06:46 am.

    Oh, yes, I forgot to mention new abortion restrictions and a DOMA Constitutional Amendment to go on the nearest upcoming election ballot, if not on a special election called for that purpose (costing millions of taxpayer dollars) since a special election would offer the greatest chance for passage.

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/05/2010 - 06:48 am.

    And of course, we’ll have to have the requisite massive “get out of taxes free” bill for Bill Cooper et al. Who knows, if the legislature demands it, he may even try to pardon Denny Hecker.

  5. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/05/2010 - 08:26 am.

    @Greg – That’s a great list but we should be so lucky.

    I’m hoping that they pass a voter photo ID law and now that the Indians’ bought and paid for DFLers are out of power, maybe we can get that racino or Hugedale casino to help pay for the new Viqueens stadium!

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