The 2007 legislative session is barely under way in St. Paul, and it already appears that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has lost interest. It was announced recently that the governor had been selected to act as a co-chair of a committee to explore the possibility of a John McCain presidential bid.
The exploratory committee has become an integral part of the process of running for president. While it serves the purpose of securing early financial support and gauging reactions from voters, the formation of such a committee has the added benefit of creating a media stir. This can create more headlines about the prospective candidate, and in the early goings, any publicity is welcomed.
Politicians never make haphazard decisions, and Sen. McCain’s selection of Pawlenty was certainly more than happenstance. It is uncommon to see such a high-profile politician take on a role in an exploratory committee, so don’t be surprised if Pawlenty has set his sights higher than the state capitol. Despite constantly declaring that he is committed to his position as governor, Pawlenty has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential candidate since before the last election. Given his position as a governor of the state which will host the 2008 Republican national convention, it seems too perfect.
Although it could be exciting to see a Minnesotan as vice president (it’s been a long time since Walter Mondale), Pawlenty needs to remain committed to Minnesota. After several disappointing legislative sessions the state now has a surplus and newly elected lawmakers. There is much optimism, and it would be unfortunate if Pawlenty were to begin neglecting the state.
By all means, Pawlenty should be applauded if he is chosen as a vice presidential candidate, but it is a little early to be getting involved in 2008 politics. Pawlenty should devote his time to Minnesota, and begin to shift his focus if and when he is considered as a running mate. In the meantime, there is work to be done in St. Paul.