Tim Pawlenty

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Tim Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty (born November 27, 1960) is an American politician. He is the 39th governor of Minnesota starting his term on January 6, 2003. Carol Molnau serves as lieutenant governor.

He had served as the majority leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives prior to being elected governor, beginning his term in the House in 1992. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Minnesota. His wife, Mary Pawlenty, is a district judge in Dakota County. He is a Republican. Although Pawlenty was raised as a Roman Catholic, he converted to Protestantism before he was elected governor.

Tim Pawlenty had originally planned to seek the US Senate seat in 2002. Several national Republican leaders including Vice President Dick Cheney, asked him to step aside to allow Norm Coleman to challenge Paul Wellstone. Pawlenty then decided to run for governor. The race saw four major-party candidates (the Republican, Democratic, Independence, and Green parties were all considered to be "major" by the state at the time). Pawlenty ran against Roger Moe (Democratic), Tim Penny (Independence), and Ken Pentel (Green).

He campaigned in 2002 on a pledge not to raise taxes to balance the state's budget deficit. He also supported requiring visa expiration dates on driver's licenses, a 24 hour waiting period on abortions, implementing the state's conceal-carry gun law and changing the state's education requirements. During the 2003 session, all these issues were passed except the "expiration dates on driver licenses". Like his predecessor Governor Jesse Ventura, he has a weekly call-in radio show.

Pawlenty has faced some criticism for traveling abroad while the economy and living conditions deteriorated after September 11. He has made trips to Kosovo, Poland, Iraq and the Czech Republic. These trips were either to see Minnesota troops or "trade missions" intended to increase Minnesota's profile in post-Communist Eastern Europe. He also welcomed Mexican President Vicente Fox in 2004 in an effort to strengthen trade. The president announced that his country would open a consulate in Minnesota the next year, removing the need for Mexican residents in the state to travel to Chicago for identification papers and other materials.

The governor has pushed a number of controversial proposals to increase state income without officially raising taxes ("user fees" for various services have been raised instead). One option was the development of a new casino in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, or the enhancement of the Canterbury Park racetrack to a "racino", which would be operated in cooperation with Native American tribes from the northern part of the state. However, the plan fell flat when Attorney General Mike Hatch indicated that such a facility would not be legal.

Pawlenty has pondered the implementation of congestion charges or other tolls in the Twin Cities. Under his watch, the carpool lanes of Interstate 394 leading into downtown Minneapolis were converted into high-occupancy toll lanes. The governor and the state Republican Party are also seeking to remove or diminish a tax credit given to apartment renters who have low incomes.

Minnesota has mandated a 10% mixture of gasoline and ethanol (gasohol) for several years. Pawlenty has been pushing to increase the mandated level to 20%, and while this was well-received by some, many have expressed concern because most cars in the U.S. are only rated to handle up to a 15% mixture.

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Preceded by:
Jesse Ventura
Governor of Minnesota
2003 – present
Succeeded by:

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