No, Blocking Franken Isn't a Win-Win for Pawlenty

Some convoluted reasoning from Chris Cillizza:

Seen through the 2012-only lens, Pawlenty's current position [as "staunch defender of Coleman's right to continue his legal appeals despite his 312 vote deficit"] looks more like a win-win.

Assuming he doesn't plan to run for reelection, Pawlenty can refuse to sign the election certificate for Franken -- if Coleman wants to take the legal fight federal -- and continue to raise his national profile by arguing (in his low key, inoffensive way) on a variety of televisions outlets that he is simply trying to ensure no legitimate votes are left uncounted, a GREAT issue for him in the eyes of GOP base voters.

And, if Coleman ends his appeal after if he loses at the state Supreme Court level, Pawlenty has seen his national profile raised as a defender of voters' rights without any serious backlash in the state.

"It's a net positive for him, especially nationally," said one senior Republican strategist. "He has a solid position: He has consistently said he wants to see the legal process completely played out to ensure no voter is disenfranchised and the actual winner is sent to DC."

To this point, Pawlenty has nicely played out a tricky political situation to his benefit, a deftness that speaks well of his potential as a national candidate in 2012.

Only inside the Beltway could it be believed that service as an obstructionist hyper-partisan hack forwards a politician's presidential ambitions. Just ask Bob Dole how easy it was for him to shake off the "hatchet man" label bestowed on him in 1971 by fellow Republican Senator William Saxbe or live down his own comments in the 1976 Vice Presidential debates about 1.6 million Americans dying in "Democrat wars" of the 20th century. (He was still fighting off this public perception during the 1996 general election.)

No, while Tim Pawlenty plays his partisan fiddle in the Minnesota Senate recount symphony, his state has been metaphorically burning with only one Senator for months. It's not as if Norm Coleman's chances of overtaking Al Franken's lead were great or even mediocre at the get-go of these seemingly unending legal proceedings -- through which time Pawlently has toed his party's line to the detriment of his state, which is without half of its representation in the Senate. By this point, Coleman's hopes are close to nil, yet Pawlenty still continues to flak for the former Senator and the Republican Party.

I'm not suggesting that being a partisan hack is necessarily a bad thing for a career politician like Pawlenty in a Republican primary. But to suggest that placing party over state and country is a "win-win" for Pawlenty ignores a key fact about American elections -- the primary isn't the only election, and the excessively partisan don't tend to do well in general elections. So while Cillizza might not believe it, there are real downsides to Pawlenty's current course of action.

Tags: Al Franken, Governor 2010, Minnesota, MN-Sen, norm coleman, Republican Primaries, Senate 2008, Tim Pawlenty, White House 2012 (all tags)



I'm kind of siding with Chris here...

Not sure where Pawlenty sits as far as a future in MN politics, but he had better NOT be the domino to fall and let Franken be seated until ever court in the land, including the SCOTUS turns Coleman away.

The Republicans have already declared Armeggedon, they are playing only to the base, and screw next month, let alone 2010 or 2012.

This is a loyality test, pure and simple.

Anyone steps out of line, anyone dares to cross Rush or this lock-step thinking, is toast.

They HAVE only a hope Obama fails, the Economy gets worse, or we get attacked by terrorists.

That's it, oh, cause all the base is going to do is go on a nationwide Jihad over Gay Marriage?

We can see what kind of lemmings they are at this point.

But seating Franken would make Pawlenty persona non grata with the base AND Rush..and we know how that goes.

by WashStateBlue 2009-04-09 10:05AM | 0 recs
2010 motivator?

My gut says this could be a motivator for Democratic turnout in 2010.  But my head says the Dems won't take advantage of this and make it an issue.

by esconded 2009-04-09 10:13AM | 0 recs
MN gubinatorial candidates are notoriously hapless

The Democratic ones most particularly.  Pawlenty has trouble breaking 46% as it stands here, and owes his success to liberal third party candidates and circular firing squad DFL opponents.

Pawlenty's political future in Minnesota is largely based on the competance of his DFL challenger; he won't get a higher percentage of the votes than he's gotten already.

He honestly has little choice other than to shoot for the Republican presidential nomination; to do that he needs to shed his moderate Republican image (which is necessary for being Minnesota's governor) and play up his Taxpayer's League "no new taxes" cred (which has more holes than swiss cheese after all his "taxes-in-fees-clothing") for national appeal.  Once he has pretended to be sufficiently psychotic to get the Republican nomination, he would then tack back to the center as is more his style.  Then Obama would destroy him.

by Dracomicron 2009-04-09 10:35AM | 0 recs
I can't see Pawlenty passing the Sara Palin test

He's not bone-ass crazy enough for the base like Ms Alaska Soap Opera is....

I think he would like second seat on Mitt's dream ticket, but so would Charlie Crist, who is probably bringing a bigger stick, that is FL.

This is crazy ass speculating, but I think its Palin/Patreaus, cause the good generals real plan is 2016 against Obama's successor.

Losing on the Palin Titanic sets him up to lead the ticket in 2016.

by WashStateBlue 2009-04-09 10:56AM | 0 recs
Interesting theory

Is Petraeus that calculating, though?

Well, probably.  He succeeded in the Bush administration.

by Dracomicron 2009-04-09 12:51PM | 0 recs
Cillizza is Wrong but TPaw is right

If you listen to what TPaw is saying it is clear that he will sign the certificate unless a Federal Court issues a stay.

So we have TPaw talking tough but telling the Coleman camp they better be ready to work fast.

by Judeling 2009-04-09 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: No, Blocking Franken Isn't a Win-Win

Being from Minnesota, I am concern about 2010 and Tim is clever.  His had would be forced if there is an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the court rules that Franken has won AND THAT A CERTIFICATION MUST BE ISSUED TO FRANKEN.  My understanding is also that if the only were to declare Franken the winner and Pawlenty refused to sign a certificate, the Franken campaign could immediately file a motion asking that in accordance with Minnesota election law, the Supreme Court hold Pawlenty in contempt for failing to carry out is duty as specified by law.  Given that Pawlenty is about himself above all else, I think he will be very caution to cover himself with the law -- so far, he has stayed fairly clear of making much out of the recount.  It has not been in his interest.  Just a few thoughts

by StephenC 2009-04-09 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: No, Blocking Franken

Dear God, I just looked it up and there is NO TERM LIMIT on TPaw being Gov.  That is the most horrible news I found today...crap.  I was hoping he would be out in 2010 for sure.  Crap crap crap.

BTW, Pawlenty and Coleman HATE each other guts.  Found that out at a pre-school children conference where I heard Norm-chameleon speak.  So I am not sure what is in it for TPaw other than National Asperations for him to carry Norm's water...

I hope this ends soon.  I REALLY want these bums out of office.

by Hammer1001 2009-04-09 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: No, Blocking Franken

I used to travel to St. Paul regularly on business. Minnesota seemed to be a nice place with friendly people. Why do they keep electing Republicans? Is the DFL party as corrupt as the Democrats here in Illinois?

by antiHyde 2009-04-09 04:04PM | 0 recs
Re: No, Blocking Franken

Once upon a time there was a Governor who had national dreams. When a Senator became Vice-president he decided that the Senate would be a good place to be. So this skilled politician resigned and had his Lieutenant Governor appoint him. Wendell Anderson's maneuver killed the DFL in 78 and we have been recovering since.

The recovery has been slowed by having a couple of reasonable republicans include in the mix. David Durenberger ended with a major ethical debacle, but along the way he was seen as a thoughtful, hardworking moderate. Arne Carlson couldn't get his own parties nomination as way too moderate and governed as such. The Republicans in Minnesota have attempted to evoke their memory at least rhetorically since. (TPaw is very good at it).

The partisan bickering leading up to the 98 election allowed Jessie to slip in. Jessie really did govern down the middle. And despite what many people believe would have been a formidable candidate if he chose to run again. His legacy is the Independence Party. The IP has become a convenient none of the above choice. The nastier the campaign the easier to make that choice. Thus Norm's burn the fields strategy made sense as Democrats are more likely to get disgusted with those tactics then Republicans are. Indeed the IP draws from both party's leaners but more like a 55/45 split hurting democrats.

These dynamics have just about played out however. The "Wendy" effect is over as that generation of DFL leaders is past and the IP effect will decline dramatically over the couple of election cycles now that the threat of a Jessie return has pasted.

I hope that answers your question.

by Judeling 2009-04-09 06:39PM | 0 recs
Re: No, Blocking Franken

Yes, it answers my question. Thank you for the details.

My first trip to St. Paul was in the first week of October, some time in the 1980's. The overnight low was minus four and three days later there was an eight inch snow. Everyone took it in stride with the news commentators nonchalantly advising people to make sure their chains were on. No panic at all.
You are some tough people!

by antiHyde 2009-04-10 04:07PM | 0 recs


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