It could have been a big day Monday in South St. Paul. The high school band could have played, banners and balloons could have decorated a city park, old-timers could have assembled to swap stories about Timmy back when.
Of course he is. He's been doing nothing else since he left the governor's office at the end of December. His critics would claim that he's been doing nothing else for a lot longer than that.
His presidential ambition was laid bare during his second gubernatorial term, as he charted a policy course that seemed tailor-made for national Republican kingmakers but left Minnesota problems unresolved.
While Pawlenty was boasting about his gubernatorial record -- "I moved a Democratic state in a conservative direction" -- his political successors in Minnesota were struggling with the budget shortfall his temporary fiscal fixes left behind.
Much like Pawlenty, GOP legislators are hewing to a "no new taxes" line while promoting budget cuts that are bound to raise regressive local property taxes -- by $400 million in the next three years, according to state estimates.
During Pawlenty's eight years as governor, Minnesota property taxes rose $2.5 billion-- a point underscored in a stinging blog post Monday by another former Republican governor, Arne Carlson.
"I come from the more traditional wing of the Republican Party," Carlson wrote. "I believe ... that the office of the presidency should go to our nation's best and brightest and not its most ambitious."
Speaking of Minnesotans with an abundance of political ambition: Sixth District third-term U.S.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, the heroine of the Tea Party and Fox News, is expected to reveal her 2012 presidential intentions later this week.
Lori Sturdevant is a Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist.