This Duluth News Tribune editorial endorses Tim Pawlenty as the Republicans’ best shot at retaking the governorship. Normally, endorsements don’t mean that much but I think this one matters. It isn’t because I think the endorsement itself is that impactful. I think it’s impactful because Tim Pawlenty was given the time and space to explain why he’s running. In my estimation, he made the most of that opportunity.

In the editorial, Gov. Pawlenty said “People criticize me for, ‘You held the line on this’ or, ‘You cut that.’ You bet I did. When you’re in a near depression and government’s budgets have contracted, the answer isn’t to go out to the taxpayers and say, ‘We need to raise your taxes.’ We had to tighten the government’s belt, just like every family did, just like every house did.”

In my estimation, that response was what you’d expect from the adult in the room. It didn’t stop there, though. After that, Gov. Pawlenty stated “I’m 57 years old, I have no other political ambitions. I’m not running for any national office. I’m coming back to try to run for governor not because I need the title; I already have it. And I don’t need to go to sit in the office; I’ve already done that for eight years,” said Pawlenty, governor from 2003 to 2011 and a Republican presidential candidate in 2012. “I’m coming back for one reason, which is to get things done for my state and for the state that I love. And I think that at this point we need somebody who is strong enough and experienced enough and, frankly, willing to embrace enough risk to bridge the (political) divides. I am in the best position in this race to do that.”

The difference between Gov. Pawlenty then and the conditions he’d walk into now are dramatic. When he first won the office, he inherited a $4.2 billion projected deficit from Jesse Ventura and a terrible economy. This time around, he’ll walk in at a time when the US economy is hitting on all cylinders. Thanks to that robust economy, Gov. Pawlenty will have the chance to reform the tax system that Gov. Dayton created.

What does Pawlenty want to do if elected again? He wants to slow down health insurance premium increases and maybe even reduce them. He wants to provide tax relief to middle- and modest-income Minnesotans, including by getting rid of Minnesota’s rare tax on Social Security benefits. And he wants to modernize and improve Minnesota schools and the state’s educational system to finally close the achievement gap and to help meet growing workforce needs.

Tim Pawlenty is the best choice to lead the Republican Party of Minnesota. He’s got universal name recognition. He’s got the funding network that’ll be needed to fight off the DFL candidate. Most importantly, he’s got a reform-minded substantive agenda that conservatives can rally around.

Jeff Johnson is touting the issues he wants to run on. That’s admirable. He’d be a fine governor if he got elected. The thing is, though, that he’d have a difficult time getting elected. You can’t govern if you don’t get elected.

Republicans have a fantastic opportunity to reform Minnesota’s economy. To do that, though, we need unified Republican control of St. Paul. We can’t get there with Jeff Johnson. He’s already lost 2 statewide races. I’m not willing to bet that the third time is the charm. There’s too much at stake to entrust to a 2-time loser.

Tim Pawlenty wants to focus on accomplishing sensible things. That’s been out of style the past 8 years in St. Paul. Here’s what I’m talking about:

6 Responses to “Duluth News Tribune endorses Tim Pawlenty”

  • Rex Newman says:

    First – the linked article doesn’t display properly in all browsers, due to a too-clever-by-half quiz/script required to see the text.

    Second – it’s hardly a stirring endorsement, really just a series of quotes, mostly of Pawlenty. There is no criticism of Johnson nor any differences cited as the reason for the endorsement. Perhaps it was Pawlenty’s “un-Republican” support of green energy, or other actions that “raised eyebrows among his own party.” While that obviously would please the DFL, including their newspaper friends, if anything Republican primary voters should have the opposite reaction.

    Third – I’m troubled that any newspaper would make primary election endorsements, even for their own party as the Duluth News Tribune also did for Tim Walz. This is “party business” and any endorsement must be partisan by definition.

    My personal guess is that they fear that DFL-endorsed (a fact not mentioned) candidate Erin Murphy will lose in November. To justify endorsing Walz, they had to “balance” with a GOP preference. In their eyes, Pawlenty is the weaker opponent and/or the “cross the aisle” Pawlenty of old that will give the DFL most of what they want anyway.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Rex if you want to continually look at the past, that’s your option. I won’t waste my time on that. That bill is history. I’ve flushed it down the toilet. Further, if you think that TPaw hasn’t learned his lesson, then that’s just sad. He’s actually run something & run it pretty well. Were there times that he disappointed us? Without question. Jeff Johnson has spent the last 10 years being a rebel who opposed, opposed, opposed.

    He didn’t have to make a decision that actually mattered. All he had to do was oppose things. That isn’t difficult. When you’re responsible for running something, sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. Jeff Johnson never had to worry about that. In that respect, he cast tons of free votes. TPaw actually had to make difficult decisions because he always had to deal with at least 1 DFL-controlled chamber of the legislature.

  • Rex Newman says:

    LFR readers know that I like pulling Gary’s chain on TPaw, but my larger point still stands: beware of DFL outlets bearing GOP gifts. Is endorsing Pawlenty merely the price this paper paid to “objectively” support Walz? Or do they actually see Pawlenty as the weaker opponent, one with a target-rich record despite his money and name recognition?

    I like my theory #1, that E-squared portends near certain defeat in November vs. Pawlenty or Johnson. Even if Murphy wins, the DFL could suffer a wave Legislative rout in 2020.

  • Gary Gross says:

    That’s a fine theory, Rex, except that DNT has played it pretty much straight down the middle on endorsements throughout the years. They endorsed Chip Cravaack’s re-election campaign, for instance. They aren’t like the NY Times editorial board in that respect.

    I think that Rex is right in that I’m fairly certain that E-Squared will benefit most from the CD-5 primary. As for TPaw, I think the DNT sees him as the class of this field. The number of quotes they included in their endorsing LTE let TPaw get his message out across a wide swath of the DNT’s territory. If they thought he was just so-so, they wouldn’t have given him that much free advertising.

  • Rex newman says:

    Aug 14, 2018 – the first time I’m rooting for a big DFL CD-5 turnout. Go E-squared!

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