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Sunday, January 22, 2006

A look at Governor Pawlenty

The Star Tribune has a look at Governor Pawlenty today as he (presumably) prepares to run for re-election. It's worth a read, even if it does allow Pawlenty to spin things his way a bit, but that's not really surprising.

I think it is accurate to say that Pawlenty isn't in the strongest position coming into this election. Of course, the more liberal people in this state aren't happy about the cuts to things like health care that Pawlenty is responsible for. At the same time, the quite conservative Taxpayer's League people are not happy with the governor's actions with regards to taxes, such as the cigarette "fee". Neither of these things would be a big problem if he could energize the much large moderate population, but as the article points out, he has no big singular accomplishments to do so. I don't think anybody is buying that he has done huge things for schools, no matter what he says, nor does he have some big transportation plan, or some new and interesting plan to tackle health care.

A couple of his comments can't be left unanswered. First, his claim that he balanced the budget without a "general state tax increase" only works if you ignore property taxes, the cigarette "fee", and various fee increases for state services. Second, his explanation as to why he is going to waste time on issues like gay marriage: "I get a little concerned when people say we can talk about money and buildings but we can't talk about values", is ridiculous. When it comes to issues like banning gay marriage, ignorance, divisiveness, fear of the unknown, and hatred are hardly things I would associate with the word "values." Community, tolerance, compassion...now those are values, and those are the very things that are destroyed when you implement conservative programs on issues like gay marriage and immigration.

Pawlenty has the advantage of incumbency, and never discount the DFL's tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, like when it gave the torch to Roger Moe four years ago. But Pawlenty is certainly vulnerable.

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