In the wings: Molnau says she's prepared to remove the "lieutenant" from her title.
If Gov. Tim Pawlenty becomes the Republicans' vice presidential nominee and ascends to the second-highest office in the country, Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau says she's prepared to fill his shoes.
"My job is to be ready," she said in an interview today at the Minnesota State Fair, where she spoke at a senior citizens award program and took part in a celebrity butter-sculpting contest.
As national speculation over who might be chosen as John McCain's running mate intensified, Molnau said she was not privy to any inside information. She also said she had not been spending much time thinking about what it would be like to be governor because she is busy with "a whole lot of other things."
Molnau has been helping to prepare next year's state budget, and next week, during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, she'll be welcoming as many as 85 foreign ambassadors to a picnic on her 1,300-acre farm in Lafayette, Minn., and accompanying them on a tour of an ethanol plant in nearby Winthrop. The diplomats are currently in Denver observing the Democratic National Convention.
If Pawlenty becomes vice president in January, Molnau would be sworn in as governor, and state Senate President James Metzen, a DFLer from South St. Paul, would become lieutenant governor, she said.
Molnau said that last year's State Fair was probably the first one she had missed in 50 years. She was also serving as state transportation commissioner at the time, and the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge meant that she needed to be elsewhere. (Pawlenty participated in the senior awards program in 2007.)
Molnau's elevation to governor would not be subject to legislative approval. In February, the state Senate rejected her appointment as transportation commissioner, a job she had held since becoming lieutenant governor in 2003.
In a Minnesota Public Radio poll released this week, 37 percent of respondents said they were not very confident in the job Molnau would do as governor, but she noted that a significant majority of respondents did not express such concerns, and most elected officials "would be happy with those numbers."
Jim Foti • 612-673-4491