Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is a much mentioned VP candidate. He is the past Chairman of the National Governors Association. Pawlenty has been supporting McCain since the start of the primary season and is one of his biggest backers. The major question that swirls around a possible Pawlenty pick is can he deliver Minnesota to McCain?
Pawlenty was first elected governor in 2002 and was reelected in 2006 with 46.7% of the vote. (the independent candidate got 6.4% of the vote) Republicans lost both the State House and Senate in the 2006 election. Pawlenty was the only Republican Constitutional officer in Minnesota to survive that election. Pawlenty took office with a 4.5 billion dollar deficit and started his second term with a surplus. However the bridge collapse in Minnesota could be a factor that keeps Pawlenty from being the VP on McCain’s ticket.
Pawlenty is undoubtly a fiscal conservative, he balanced Minnesota’s budget while cutting taxes, enacted a property tax cap, and elimated the marriage penalty. He also has a great record on education has Minnesota is first in ACT scores, first in percentage of residents with a high school diploma, and first in precentage of residents with a bachelors degree. This leads to a business environment that has the State first in Fortune 500 companies per capita. Minnesota is also first in quality of life and home ownership.
Back to my first question can Pawlenty deliver Minnesota? In his last election he garnered 46.7% of the vote. This was after winning his first election with even a smaller percentage 44.3. As best as I can tell Pawlenty tends to hold an approval rating between 50-55%. That would probably get him reelected, but I don’t think it’s high enough for McCain to steal that state from the Blue Column. Also the fact he never really came close to 50% in either election doesn’t bode well for McCain either. I don’t think Pawlenty can deliver Minnesota and outside of that he doesn’t have a great story line and wouldn’t generate any buzz for the campaign. On the other hand no one would be upset with this pick either. If McCain wants to play it safe this would be his best choice. If he’s going for a homerun he’s going to need to look to someone else.