June 2, 2009

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty held a press conference this afternoon to tell the media that he's not planning on running for a third term for governor.

A source close to Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty confirms to First Read that Pawlenty will announce today that he will not be running for a third term in 2010.

This announcement, of course, will raise speculation about whether Pawlenty plans to spend the next three years preparing for a presidential bid in 2012.[..]

Pawlenty gave a firebrand speech at the Republican Governor’s Association meeting in Miami, a week after the party’s sound November election losses. He gave some tough medicine to the party, saying, “It needs to get younger, more diverse and build a broader coalition,” we wrote at the time. "If we're going to successfully travel the road, as a Republican,” he said at the time, “we need to see clearly, and be honest about where we've been and where we're headed. … If we're going to be the majority, we're going to have to see we need to grow the party. We cannot compete in the Northeast, the West; we're losing seats in the Great Lakes region. We have a large deficit with women, Hispanics, African Americans -- people with modest financial circumstances. That is not a formula for a majority." In the halls at the meeting, Pawlenty was lukewarm toward another potential 2012 GOP candidate, Sarah Palin. In fact, during his speech “he delivered a line that might sound like an opening 2012 shot at Palin,” we wrote then.

"'Drill baby, drill' by itself is not an energy policy," he said. "It's not enough. We're going to need wind and solar and bio mass."

Pawlenty neglects to mention that even if he did dare try for a third term, he'd be unlikely to win re-election. Just a few days ago he acknowledged to local press that winning a third term would be an uphill battle, even though last year he has said he'd make his decision in early '09. His continued support of Coleman hasn't helped him at all in his state. The Minnesota DFLs tell Pawlenty "Don't let the door hit you..."

"While we thank Gov. Pawlenty for his service to our state, his retirement as governor is an opportunity to move Minnesota forward," a statement from DFL chair Brian Melendez said.

"Gov. Pawlenty's 'no new taxes' ideology plays well to Republican special interests and the dinner circuits from Iowa to New Hampshire, but it has hurt Minnesota and Minnesotans. The divisive politics of ideology and calculation have done enough damage."

The "Iowa to New Hampshire" reference was a dig at Pawlenty's frequently speculated-upon desire to seek national office in 2012.

"Minnesota faces incredible challenges: a historic multibillion-dollar deficit, disappearing jobs, skyrocketing health care costs and rising property taxes," Melendez went on. "We need a leader who will face these problems with courage and honesty, and won't hide behind clever word games, accounting shifts and budget tricks. We need a leader who understands Minnesota values: accountability, opportunity, prosperity and fair play.

"Today is a day to thank Gov. Pawlenty for his service. Starting tomorrow, it will be time to bring Minnesota values back to the governor's mansion. We look forward with hope. We look forward to electing a DFL governor."

During the presser, Pawlenty finally did admit that he will do whatever the courts ask and not hold up the Senate certificate any longer.

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