June 2002 — Tim Pawlenty beats out businessman Brian Sullivan for GOP endorsement for Republican gubernatorial nomination. He signs onto the “no new taxes” pledge of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota.
November — In his inaugural gubernatorial win, he musters 44.4 percent in a three-way race with DFLer Roger Moe and Independence Party candidate Tim Penny.
January 2003 — Pawlenty takes over as governor, facing what he called an “incredible Hulk” of a $4.5 billion state budget deficit.
November — He plays host to first-ever Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener, a “tradition” he continued throughout his administration.
March 2004 — Pawlenty plays role in helping to settle Metro Transit bus drivers’ 44-day strike.
July 2005 — After special legislative session fails, partial state government shutdown occurs as Pawlenty and legislators can’t settle budget differences.
November 2006 — In winning a second term, he grabs 46.7 percent of the vote in a three-way race with DFLer Mike Hatch and the IP’s Peter Hutchinson.
May 2007 — Pawlenty signs bill to ban smoking in bars and restaurants statewide.
August — I-35W Bridge collapses, touching off debate about state’s infrastructure and spending priorities as Pawlenty works with others to rebuild it.
March 2008 — Pawlenty visits presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s ranch in Arizona amid talk of vice presidential possibilities.
May — Racking up 34 vetoes in one legislative session, Pawlenty sets modern state record, breaking Arne Carlson’s previous record of 29 in 1993.
September — Pawlenty, in a last-minute surprise choice, loses out to Sarah Palin for the Republican vice presidential spot on the ticket. He speaks at Republican National Convention and touts his “Sam’s Club Republican” concept: “These voters are on a tight budget. They’re looking for value and accountability at the store. And they’re looking for value and accountability from their government.”
June 2009 — He announces he won’t seek a third term for governor.
October — Pawlenty forms Freedom First Political Action Committee to help raise funds for what is seen as a potential presidential bid.
May 2010 — Minnesota Supreme Court rules against Pawlenty’s unilateral “unallotment” of state funding, saying he overstepped his authority and kicking the state budget cutbacks back to Legislature.
June — The governor appears on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart as part of ongoing efforts to raise his national visibility.
November — Plans for the Jan. 11 release of Pawlenty’s book, “Courage to Stand,” and publicity tour are announced.