Iowa. Two weeks, two visits by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who – as everyone who didn’t just emerge from a snow cave for the summer knows – is widely speculated to be testing the waters for a Republican primary run for president in 2012.
He was last in the Hawkeye State only a week ago barnstorming on behalf of Republican legislative candidates. He returns to Des Moines today for a two-day campaign swing, at least his fourth visit to Iowa since last fall (but who's counting?).
This time, he’s making stops on behalf of former Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican running against incumbent Democrat Chet Culver in Iowa's governor race. He’s also doing fundraisers for GOP congressional candidate Brad Zaun and state Rep. Erik Helland.
The choice of Helland might seem curious, given that not only was Helland arrested for drunken driving in June, but he faces no challenger in this year’s election.
But an aide to Pawlenty explained that as Helland is an assistant leader in the Iowa House, “helping him really helps the whole party,” which is just a few seats away from winning the majority. Helland also introduced Pawlenty at an Iowans for Tax Relief event this spring.
Between fundraisers, Pawlenty is scheduled to visit the Iowa State Fairgrounds, where he’ll be doing some local radio.
In addition to setting up a national political action committee, Freedom First PAC, Pawlenty also has set up state PAC in Iowa, the first caucus state.
Senate Republicans and their staff will be locked out of a Capitol parking ramp starting Saturday, the latest flash point between the GOP caucus and Senate Democrats who have traded jabs over the new Minnesota Senate Building.