Timothy James "Tim" Pawlenty (born November 27, 1960), also known affectionately among supporters as T-Paw, is an American politician who served as the 39th Governor of Minnesota (2003–2011). He was a Republican candidate for President of the United States in the 2012 election from May to August 2011. He previously served in the Minnesota House of Representatives (1993–2003) where he served two terms as majority leader. Pawlenty was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and raised in nearby South St. Paul. He graduated from University of Minnesota with a B.A. in political science and earned a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. His early career included working as a labor law attorney and the vice president of a software company. After settling in the city of Eagan with his wife, Pawlenty was appointed to the city's Planning Commission and was elected to the Eagan City Council at the age of 28. He won a seat as a state representative in 1992, representing District 38B in suburban Dakota County. He was re-elected four times, and voted majority leader by House Republicans in 1998. After winning a narrow Republican primary in 2002, Pawlenty won a three-way election for Governor of Minnesota, and he was re-elected in 2006 by a margin of one percent. His campaign platform focused on balancing the budget without raising taxes. During Pawlenty's governorship, he eliminated his state's budget deficit using spending cuts and borrowing heavily from earmarked funds. Pawlenty did not raise income taxes during his governorship, but did enact targeted increases in sales tax and user fees. His administration advocated for numerous public works projects, including work on the Northstar Commuter Rail Line, and the construction of Target Field, a Major League Baseball stadium in Minneapolis. He signed a bill mandating 20% ethanol in gasoline by 2013. He cut health care spending to help balance the budget, and signed an executive order rejecting federal funds related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He led worldwide trips for business leaders and trade delegations to explore trade opportunities. In the 2007–2008 term he served as chairman of the National Governors Association. Pawlenty was rumored as a contender for president as early as 2005, and was closely involved with U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008. Pawlenty began early steps toward a run in late 2009. He formally announced his presidential campaign in May 2011, running on a strongly conservative platform. A day after coming in third place in the August 13, 2011 Ames Straw Poll, Governor Pawlenty announced that he was withdrawing from the race.
Tim Pawlenty is of Polish and German ancestry. He was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in nearby South St. Paul. He is one of five children of Eugene and Virginia (Oldenburg) Pawlenty. His father drove a milk truck. His mother died of cancer when he was 15. Pawlenty played ice hockey on his high school's junior varsity squad. In 1983, he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in political science and went on to receive his Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1986. While in law school, he met his future wife, Mary Anderson. After their marriage, they settled in Eagan, Minnesota. Pawlenty first worked as a labor law attorney at the firm Rider Bennett, where he had interned during law school. Later, he became Vice President for a software-as-a-service company Wizmo Inc.
Minnesota House of Representatives
Tim Pawlenty was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1992, winning 49.1 % of the vote in District 38B (suburban Dakota County). In the House he authored bills instituting term limits for committee chairmen, funding for infant parenting classes, minimum sentences for repeat domestic violence offenders, and community notification for sex offenders. In response to a state budget surplus he advocated for a tax reduction rather than expanded education funding. He was reelected four times and was chosen House Majority Leader when the Republicans became the majority party in the State Legislature in 1998.
Governor of Minnesota
In 2002, Tim Pawlenty wanted to run for governor, but party leaders made it clear that they favored businessman Brian Sullivan for that office. Pawlenty won the election with 43.8 percent of the vote. His largest gains after the October three-way tie were reportedly among voters in the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Governor Pawlenty ran for re-election in 2006. The 2006 gubernatorial race included Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch, of the DFL, Peter Hutchinson of the Independence Party, and Ken Pentel of the Green Party. Pawlenty won, defeating Hatch by a margin of less than one percent, though both the state House and Senate gained DFL majority.
Presidential race, 2012
In February 2005, ABC News identified him as a potential candidate for president. Pawlenty decided not to seek a third term as governor, and so was not a candidate in the November 2010 gubernatorial election. In July 2009, Public Policy Polling conducted a poll that showed that President Obama was favored to win against Pawlenty in his home state of Minnesota by more than 10 points. In October 2009, a CNN article suggested that Pawlenty was contemplating a 2012 White House bid. Among those advising him in preparation for a potential presidential run is lobbyist and former Congressman Vin Weber. In late 2009, Pawlenty began taking steps that many saw as leading to a 2012 presidential bid. He visited Iowa in November 2009 and April 2010, making political speeches. In January 2011, the New York Times reported that "Few Americans, in fact, even know his name." In January 2011, Pawlenty told the College Republicans group at The George Washington University "If I decide to run it would be for president, not vice president." On March 21, 2011, Pawlenty announced, via Facebook, that he had formed an exploratory committee in preparation for a potential run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. On April 12, 2011, Pawlenty said clearly on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight that he was "running for President" and not for Vice President, adding that a formal announcement would be given in several weeks. On Twitter, his spokesman said CNN took his comments out of context. On May 23, 2011, Pawlenty launched his candidacy for President in a speech in Iowa stating: "I'm going to try something a little unusual in politics. I'm just going to tell the truth." A YouTube video appeared a day before. The Wall Street Journal wrote of his candidacy, and the luck he experienced in the GOP's field, that Pawlenty has a "golden chance to become the chief rival to... Mitt Romney". Tim Pawlenty finished third in the Ames Straw Poll on August 13, 2011, behind the winner Michele Bachmann and the runner-up Ron Paul. The following day he announced his decision to withdraw from the presidential race.
Tim Pawlenty frequently uses (and is referred to by) the mononym TPaw or T-Paw. In 1994, Pawlenty's wife Mary was appointed as a judge of the Dakota County District Court in Hastings, Minnesota and the two began raising their two daughters, Anna and Mara. After he was elected in 2002, the family remained at their Eagan home instead of moving into the Governor's Residence because of Mary's requirement to stay in her judicial district. In 2007, she left her judicial position to become General Counsel of the National Arbitration Forum, a dispute resolution company based in Minneapolis. She stayed on only briefly before departing for another dispute resolution company, the Gilbert Mediation Center. Pawlenty was raised a Roman Catholic.