Saturday, July 30, 2005

Pawlenty losing favor

In one of his periodic updates on the future presidential prospects of Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, national columnist Robert Novak writes:

Conservative Republican interest in Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as a dark horse 2008 presidential candidate, rising since his election in 2002, has dropped sharply because he accepted a tax increase as part of the state's budget.

Pawlenty, who had signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge against new taxes, signed into law a 75-cent cigarette tax. Trying to sell this to conservatives, Pawlenty attached the tax increase to a bill containing an anti-abortion provision.

A footnote: Although Pawlenty faces a 2006 re-election challenge in a state that is difficult for Republicans, his potential presidential candidacy has been quietly discussed among some key New Hampshire Republicans.

The cigarette tax - and his plan to bring in more revenue through casinos - has left me with serious doubts about him.

Update: Of course, Pawlenty has conservative defenders, too. The argument is that with a divided Legislature, his compromises have been necessary to accomplish as much good as possible. In fact, as I'm re-reading this Star Tribune piece, I'm beginning to agree more and more.

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