Pawlenty to host Facebook fundraiser for Sean Duffy

Earlier this spring, Tim Pawlenty announced a contest to select the next recipient of his Freedom First PAC efforts in Congressional elections.  He won’t have to travel far to find the first winner, as selected by visitors to the site.  Sean Duffy, whose insurgent campaign managed to scare incumbent Democrat David Obey into retirement, will appear with Pawlenty in a Facebook fundraising townhall event on Friday afternoon at 5 pm ET:

After the success of Governor Pawlenty’s first-of-its-kind Facebook Townhall, the second Facebook townhall will feature Governor Pawlenty and Sean Duffy, the winner of his Freedom First PAC’s online contest. Facebook users will be able to post questions and get answers in a live streamed video in real time from both Governor Pawlenty and Sean Duffy.

In staying with Freedom First PAC’s commitment to listening to online grassroots, Governor Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC launched an online contest where all endorsed candidates were put up to an online vote for real prizes. Prizes included: co-host a Facebook Townhall with Governor Pawlenty, email to the Freedom First PAC list, and match online contributions up to $5,000.

Sean Duffy and his team worked to aggressively mobilize his supporters and encouraging them to vote for him by promoting the contest on Facebook, Twitter, and his email list. Duffy’s hard work paid off – as he bested the early leaders in the contest, Michele Bachmann and Adam Kinzinger.

In the final days of the contest, the New York Times article and Weekly Standard post likely helped push Duffy over the top with votes. Duffy was announced the winner on May 3rd, two days later, David Obey
announced his retirement.

Duffy has plenty of momentum in Wisconsin with Obey’s retirement. However, Democrats have time to carefully pick a new candidate, so this will be no walkover. Duffy will need a lot of support to turn WI-07 into a Republican takeover. The Facebook event should help keep this race on the national radar.

Speaking of the national radar, Politico took notice of Pawlenty’s triumph in his final budget standoff with the DFL in Minnesota.  They note that Pawlenty has a line-item veto, but it took more than that to send Democrats into retreat over the weekend:

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s final budget, completed early Monday morning over the protests of angry Democrats and passed in a special session of the state legislature later in the day, positions the 2012 Republican presidential hopeful as the embodiment of conservative governance in hard economic times.

Pawlenty appears to have run the table on the Democratic majorities in both of the houses of the legislature, forcing them to drop plans for new surcharges and scrap their top priority, an expansion of federal and state-funded health care for some of the state’s poor. They also enacted spending cuts that a court recently ruled Pawlenty could not make himself. …

[T]he budget is likely to be the centerpiece of a national campaign should he choose to run for president, which he said he’d decide on “in early 2011.” He can claim, accurately, that he’s been able to balance a budget without raising taxes, and that he’s weathered legislative battles, strikes, and lawsuits.

Minnesota’s governor has a constitutionally strong hand, with a set of tools that include a line-item veto. But Pawlenty’s victory stemmed at least as much, said Peter Nelson, a policy fellow at the conservative Center of the American Experience in Minneapolis, from his political strength: He was able to keep Minnesota House Republicans from defecting to join a veto override, forcing Democrats to the negotiating table with a governor who flatly refused to raise taxes.

“Democrats have always known that a tax increase means a veto. As a result, there has been a grudging acceptance among Democrats that any package negotiated with the governor will not include tax increases,” Nelson said.

That conclusion forced Democratic leaders to erase lines in the sand and abandon top priorities. Their plan to combine revenues from a new fee on health care providers with new federal funds to provide better care for poor single adults was transformed into a far weaker agreement to allow the governor to choose to opt into the program, something Pawlenty signaled he will not do.

As I wrote yesterday, taxpayers will miss Pawlenty’s leadership when his term expires later in the year.  We’re working on having Tom Emmer follow him with the same kind of toughness that will be needed to rein in state spending.  For Pawlenty, though, the final budget victory gives him a lot of credibility to speak to fiscal conservatism and limited government in whatever direction he decides to take in the next few years.