He's been in the state spotlight 17 years since joining House, and his national profile is rising.
November 1992: Elected to Minnesota House, from Eagan.
November 1998: Becomes House majority leader after Republicans gain control of House.
April 2001: About to launch an exploratory 2002 U.S. Senate run, gets a call from Vice President Dick Cheney asking him not to take on fellow Republican Norm Coleman. He agrees.
June 2002: After 12 ballots, gains the Republican Party gubernatorial endorsement over rival Brian Sullivan.
November 2002: Wins governor's race over DFLer Roger Moe and Independence Party's Tim Penny.
January 2003: Takes office. GOP holds majority in House; DFL controls Senate.
May 2003: Legislative session ends with Pawlenty holding upper hand over DFLers by balancing a
$4.5 billion deficit without tax increases.
Summer 2003: Rides out a controversy over past links to a telecommunications company.
January 2004: State launches a website linking Minnesotans to two Canadian pharmacies as part of an initiative by Pawlenty to lower prescription drug costs.
November 2004: DFLers cut GOP House majority to 68-66.
May 2005: Proposes a "health impact fee" on tobacco products to help resolve a budget impasse. Some say that fee is a tax in disguise and that he has gone back on his no-new-taxes pledge. He says it's a "user fee" and a compromise.
July 2005: Partial government shutdown occurs amid continued budget impasse. It ends in mid-month, with health impact fee part of the solution.
November 2006: Pawlenty edges DFL gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch to win reelection in a tough year for Republicans. DFLers gain 85-49 majority in state House and increase hold on Senate to 45-22.
August 2007: Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis kills 13 people and injures more than 100.
October 2007: A Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows Pawlenty's approval rating at 59 percent, highest in four years.
February 2008: Travels to Germany, joining Sen. John McCain, right, and others at a security summit. McCain has all but wrapped up GOP nomination and speculation continues that Pawlenty, who has supported him through good times and bad, may become his running mate.
• With help of six House Republicans, DFL legislative majorities override Pawlenty's veto of a $6.6 billion transportation bill that includes state's first gas tax increase in 20 years.
• Senate ousts Carol Molnau as transportation chief. She remains lieutenant governor.
Summer 2008: Speculation mounts about a possible McCain-Pawlenty ticket.
Aug. 29, 2008: Three days before Republican National Convention opens in St. Paul, McCain picks Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, as running mate. Pawlenty praises the choice.
December 2008: State projects massive deficit for July 2009 through June 2011.
January 2009: Pawlenty offers budget plan that includes spending reductions, accounting shifts and a proposal to borrow nearly $1 billion through the sale of bonds.
March 2009: Projected deficit stands at $4.56 billion. It has actually grown, but federal stimulus money cushions the blow.
May 2009: DFL majorities pass a $1 billion tax bill to help deal with deficit. Pawlenty promptly vetoes it. Override attempt fails.
Near session's end, Pawlenty says Legislature has sent him budget bills that include more in spending than state expects to take in. He says he'll balance the budget himself, using line-item vetoes and "unallotment," if no agreement is reached.
May 19: Legislature adjourns without budget agreement. DFLers pass last-minute budget-balancing bill that again includes tax increases, and Pawlenty again vetoes it.
Tuesday: Pawlenty says he won't seek a third term.