Wednesday, June 03, 2009

No Pawlenty in 2010

By Michael J.W. Stickings

With his sights (perhaps) on the White House, and on a 2012 run, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has decided not to seek re-election next year. (It would have been somewhat awkward to win re-election and then almost immediately declare his intention to run. He may have wanted to get out while the getting was good, before his popularity eroded further, possibly as a result of the economic crisis. And what if he had lost? So much for the White House.)

Pawlenty's personal plans can wait, though. The more immediate question is this: What will he do about the still-unresolved Coleman-Franken Senate election? Will he now side with the national GOP and block Franken? Or will he certify Franken's apparent victory?

Steven Benen suggests that "if the next set of folks Pawlenty has to impress is Republican presidential primary voters" -- which may very well be the case -- "look for the governor to back Coleman's efforts indefinitely."

Similarly, Josh Marshall thinks that "Pawlenty will likely have just enough wiggle room to refuse to [certify Franken's victory], if he wishes, perhaps using the excuse of possible litigation on Coleman's behalf in the federal judiciary": "As long as he was going to run for governor and had to face Minnesota voters again, there was good reason for him not to completely stick his finger in the eye of the election process. But now that's not holding him back. And since he's probably running for president, he'll have tons of incentive to pander to the hardcore tea-bagging wing of the GOP and keep Franken out of the Senate as long as he can."

We shall see. I tend to think the Minnesota Supreme Court will issue a fairly decisive ruling that will more or less force Pawlenty to do what is right and certify Franken's victory. No, that won't improve his chances with the far-right base of the GOP, but it will at least allow him to come across as something other than a partisan extremist who cares not a whit for democracy, or for the interests of his own state.

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  • The key question is : will the MN-Supreme Court include in its ruling instructions that the certificate must be signed ?
    During oral arguments, the first question that Justice Page asked Franken’s attorney related to jurisdiction and that the Senate could decide who and when to seat the next Minnesota Senator ? The Court had previously rejected Franken’s request that a certificate be issued (after the State Canvassing Board ruling) stating that the Senate can do whatever it wants. It seems to be a balancing act that the Court views its role as only to address the election contest and not tell the Senate what to do.

    The interesting question is when the MNSC made their decision on Monday did they even consider the certificate signing question. Based on the questions that were asked it seemed that they question whether Coleman even had a case. It could be that they would just deny his request and let the Election Contest Court ruling stand … which would mean that the “signing” question was not addressed. So right now the five Justices know the decision and we will have to wait weeks while they write the opinion(s). The Justices know the question exists but they might not feel inclined to get involved in other branches of government’s responsibilities. It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall during the justices deliberations to see how much, if any, time they took addressing the “signing” question.

    In the end, Pawlenty does not have much of a choice but to sign … but he has little to lose by taking his time … but then again he has little to gain either.
    As a lame duck Governor, his political career may be over. His options are limited – President or US Senate. Considering the make-up of the Republican Party, a mid-westerner without any military or foreign experience and without a strong theology base does not offer much appeal to the typical Republican activist. Remember that Pawlenty was McCain’s Co-Chair -- yet couldn’t deliver the MN delegation to McCain even though by that time in the primary season McCain was clearly the nominee. A 2012 Presidential campaign would be over after Huckabee wins Iowa again and Romney takes New Hampshire --- actually a 2012 Presidential campaign would largely be a campaign for the VP slot … yet he has little to offer in terms of policy, experience or connections.

    The odd thing is that for all the discussion of whether to sign, Pawlenty has publicly stated that Minnesota is being short-changed without two Senators.
    As such, currently Minnesotans will remember Pawlenty as the Guardian Angel of NoNewTaxes, but if he does not sign the certificate, he will also be known as the Guardian Angel of the Republican Party. The next Senate race will be in 2012 for Klobuchar’s seat … considering that is a Presidential year and if Pawlenty does have an abbreviated campaign, he will not be the MN-GOP nominee (Congresswoman Bachmann would be the obvious choice considering the redistricting that will happen after the 2010 census.) After that it would be Franken –v- Pawlenty in 2014 ! ! ! Wow, will anyone remember the “signing” controversy ?

    By Blogger Minnesota Central, at 9:15 AM  

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