Of all the won’t-say 2012 contenders, Tim Pawlenty has been the least concerned with plausible deniability. He organized his Freedom First PAC under his eponymous domain name, and has been among the most active in fundraising and contributions to Republican candidates. CNN reports that his latest effort has gone to 30 races in New Hampshire at all levels of government, which sends a very clear message:
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s increasing his support of Republican candidates running in November’s midterm elections.
The possible 2012 GOP presidential hopeful announced Tuesday that his political action committee, Freedom First PAC, is endorsing 30 candidates in New Hampshire, from the statewide to the local level. The PAC is also contributing approximately $18,000 total to the candidates’ campaigns.
“Voters around the country know government spending is out of control,” said Pawlenty in a statement. “This fall, New Hampshire voters will send a message that we’ve had enough. Each of these candidates will fight to hold the line on taxes and cut spending – I’m proud to endorse them.”
As reported earlier Tuesday, the PAC officially announced that Pawlenty will team up with John Stephen, New Hampshire’s GOP gubernatorial nominee, at a campaign event in the Granite state on September 30.
Pawlenty has already spent considerable time in Iowa, building his organization in the first caucus state of the nomination process. By getting into the deeper levels of New Hampshire politics and helping Republicans get elected, Pawlenty can build a base of loyal supporters in the second state as well. It’s not exactly a surprise strategy, but Pawlenty appears to be ahead of the curve at least in the Granite State.
Assuming the obvious and Pawlenty runs for the presidency in 2012, we will know almost immediately in the cycle how well he can do. Investing this much money and attention should result in a win in one of the states when the cycle gets going. If he doesn’t get a big win or near-win in either, then his candidacy in that cycle won’t survive the first two states. It’s worth pointing out, though, that Pawlenty is a young man, under 50 at the moment, and this kind of organization will last as long as he wants. If 2012 doesn’t work out for Pawlenty, 2016 might if Obama gets re-elected, or 2020 otherwise.