President Pawlenty?

By now you have heard about the governor’s budget proposals for the next two years. In order to understand the governor’s attack on public employees and public services you must understand one important fact; the governor is running for President---in 2016.

The overwhelming democratic victory in the House and Senate came at the expense of moderate Republicans who were replaced by Democrats. Those left in the Congress are mostly right-wing Republicans from safe districts. This is clearly evident in the Republicans’ reaction to President Obama’s stimulus bill. There are apparently only three moderate Republicans left in the Senate. The president’s decisive victory has resulted in a vacuum in the leadership of the Republican Party and the governor plans to fill that vacuum. For months prior to the election he was being groomed by the party leadership as a future leader of the party. He had every expectation of being selected as McCain’s running mate before McCain made his desperate gamble with Sarah Palin. Now he must prove to the leadership that he, rather than Palin, will have the best chance of delivering the White House back into Republican hands. In order to do that he must continue to promote the policies that have endeared him to the party. He will hang on to his ‘No New Tax’ pledge. 

Despite the harm that it has done to the state, he will continue to marginalize government in general, and to promote privatization. And yes, he will run for a third term as governor in 2010. He needs the governorship as a platform to be a contender for the presidency in 2012. If he wins a third term as governor, and if he is his party’s presidential candidate in 2012, he can’t lose even if he loses in 2012. If President Obama has a successful first term no will expect Pawlenty to win in 2012. However he can secure his hold on the front-runner position to be his party’s candidate in 2016 when the Democrats will not have the advantage of incumbency. 

All of this long-range planning has immediate implications for you and me. The only way to get the state out of its budget deficit is either by raising taxes or by massive layoff of public employees and the elimination of vital services. The Democrats in the state legislature have enough votes to develop a rational budget, but they are gong to need our encouragement to do so. So, when you are asked to call or write your legislators, please do so. And we have to do everything in our power to put a Democrat in the statehouse and deny Pawlenty his stepping-stone to the presidency. For, after all, if you think Governor Pawlenty is bad – just think of four or eight years of President Pawlenty!

~ Cliff Robinson, AFSCME Local 34 Chief Steward