In an interview with the Duluth News Tribune, outgoing Governor Tim Pawlenty was asked whether he regretted his decision, made after the 2008 election, not to seek a third term as governor. His answer was surprising:
“Yes,” he answered when asked by the News Tribune editorial board this week whether, after the Republicans took control of the Minnesota Legislature in the Nov. 2 election, he wished he had run for another term.
“If I would have known then what I know now,” the Republican lamented, and “given what I’ve been through and hoped to accomplish, but that (the DFL-controlled Legislature) blocked. But you can’t predict the future. And of course, I made my decision after the 2008 election when President Obama and the Democrats swept everything. I looked at that and (decided against) having to go over there and ram heads with (DFL Sen. Larry) Pogemiller and (DFL Rep. Margaret Anderson) Kelliher and their like. (There was a) high probability of that. Hindsight is 20/20.”
It makes sense that Pawlenty would have enjoyed the opportunity to work with a Republican legislature, but his decision to retire as governor after two terms was driven largely, one assumes, by his intention to run for President in 2012. If Pawlenty were currently being touted as the front-runner for the GOP nomination–which, given his successful record of standing up to a Democratic legislature and getting Minnesota’s fiscal house in order, was not an implausible hope as of 2008–it is hard to believe that he would now tell interviewers that he regrets his decision. In the political world, Pawlenty’s answer will no doubt be taken as a recognition that his Presidential campaign hasn’t, so far, gained as much traction as he had hoped.
Pawlenty’s irreverent streak came out in another interview this week, when he was asked about his plans:
“If I don’t run for president I’m going to open a margarita bar in south Florida and play Kenny Chesney music,” he said, according to KAAL-TV.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.