Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is not ceding much Washington turf to current Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.
While the new Democratic governor will be at the White House Monday with the National Governors Association, Pawlenty will be down the street at Carmine’s restaurant doing a fundraiser with his Freedom First Political Action Committee, a precursor to a possible presidential bid.
According to Roll Call, which obtained an invitation, Pawlenty has wrangled a high-powered host committee that includes a number of luminaries in the Minnesota Republican constellation.
Among them: U.S. Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen, along with ex-Sen. Norm Coleman and former Reps. Mark Kennedy and Vin Weber (a co-chair of Pawlenty’s PAC). Kennedy’s name is interesting because he seemed to have fallen off the face of the political earth since his 21-point defeat to Democrat Amy Klobuchar in the 2006 Senate race.
Also on the list: Businessman Ben Whitney, former ambassador to Norway and son of wealthy investor and politician Wheelock Whitney. The younger Whitney also served as executive director and finance chairman for the Bush/Cheney 2004 presidential campaign in Minnesota.
So far, it would seem that mainstream Minnesota Republicans are gravitating toward Pawlenty over the other Minnesota prospect, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.