Mitch Daniels has been oft mentioned as a possible candidate for President in 2012. He’s done some good things as Governor of Indiana and appears to be popular with the folks in his state. He’s also tarnished his conservative credentials a couple of times with some “missteps” like his proposal for a “truce” on social issues until we can get the fiscal problems facing us on the way to being fixed. And then there’s his opposition to a bill in the Indiana legislature that would make his state – where he eliminated some collective bargaining ability by unions by executive order – a Right To Work state.
Frankly, I can live with the concept of the truce. Mostly because in the real world, social issues – primarily abortion – isn’t going to come off the table, it’s just not going to be front and center but there will still be ongoing legislative actions to curtail the practice when the opportunity presents itself. See the Congress working to defund Planned Parenthood as an example.
I hate putting this up now, it’s too darn early to be talking about 2012. We really have no clue what the issues will be – other than fiscal, which won’t be going away in my youngest son’s lifetime – and the next Republican Congress hasn’t begun to make a mark. Oh well, that said…
Newt says he’s probably running. Well, in NewtSpeak, he said he was
…currently “much more inclined to run” than to not run…
You figure that one out.
Then there’s Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, my Dead White Cat, a half a dozen members of Congress, a couple of Senators, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Jan Brewer (OK, she’s not running, I just want her out of Arizona), etc. Oh, and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.
Before I go on, let me be clear about a couple of things. One, this is not meant to be an endorsement of any potential candidate. Two, it’s not meant as a shot at any potential candidate. It’s meant as one thing and only one thing, and that’s reporting an interesting statement and how I think it fits into the next cycle with the help of a little history from the last.
OK, Pawlenty. He’s a two term Republican Governor in a state where the opposition is known as “The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party”. A bastion of conservatism Minnesota is not. In fact, what Republicans there are in the frozen north country lean pretty far to the left. And with all of that, Pawlenty is being talked about as a possible Presidential candidate. And he’ll be an interesting addition to the mix if he decides to run for a whole raft of reasons, being able to govern in a pretty left-leaning state and get reelected to a second term. Today in Politico, there’s an interesting piece about Pawlenty and he lays down an interesting glove…
“I’ll put my record against the record of any governor in the country, both offensively and defensively. We’ve stopped a lot of dumb stuff that the Democrats wanted to do, but we also got a lot done.”
In Pawlenty’s telling of his eight years in office, he butted heads with Democrats and moderate Republicans, part of a frontal challenge to the state’s progressive tradition. He allowed a partial shutdown of state government in 2005. He vetoed 123 bills over eight years. He takes credit for cutting state taxes by nearly $800 million.
And he ran afoul of a state Supreme Court packed with his own appointees this year after unilaterally cutting spending without the support of a hostile legislature. The result: no new taxes.
“Anybody can get up and give a speech,” Pawlenty said, a seeming dig against some of his more headline-grabbing rivals. “The real question is going to be: Do you have the fortitude to take the pounding to get these things done? Without being immodest, because Minnesotans don’t like to be immodest, I did.”
There was bittersweet irony for Pawlenty in last month’s election results. Republicans captured the state House and Senate, the latter for the first time ever…
So, we’ve got a Republican Governor in a very liberal state who fought for his agenda and won more often than the lost and in his parting, leaves the state with a Republican House and Senate. To be fair, the voters of Minnesota also elected a complete nutcase to replace him as Governor, albeit by just a few thousand votes. That would be Mark Dayton of Dayton-Hudson-Target money, a raging drunk and a guy who needs to be hospitalized every once in a while. Oh well.
Bottom line, Pawlenty is laying down an interesting challenge to all-comers. Competence as an administrator, competence as a politician and a real record of solid accomplishments over his two terms as governor in a very hostile-liberal political environment. He’s got a record that no House Member or Senator can match unless they’ve been a Governor. He’s got a record that not many Governors will compare well against. He’s got a record that I’d certainly put up against Obama’s, including his time as President.
Now then, let’s see if Republican Primary voters are interested in a solid resume of accomplishment or if we’re going to go for the same rancid stew the Democrats went for in 08, sounds great and doesn’t need a record. I don’t know if Pawlenty is going to run, or if he does, how he’ll hold up in the national spot light but he’s made an interesting move today. He’s really the first potential candidate to talk about his record as a successful administrator since 2000, with the exception of GWB who was a very successful Governor of Texas and possible exception of Howard Dean in 04 and Rudy in 08 and gee, we know how that worked out.
Gonna be an interesting cycle…