According to Skimm, the young adult political hotline for girls on the go, as the Romney campaign’s VP timetable gets shorter and the August 27 convention nears, the probable A list for vice presidential nominees narrows to Tim Pawlenty , former governor of Minnesota, Ohio senator Rob Portman and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan with “maybe” picks of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
On Wednesday, my STP colleagues considered those choices and also handicapped former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Secretary of State Condi Rice, and never-count-her-out former Alaska governor, VP nominee and reality star Sarah Palin as possible GOP veepstakes victors.
From that field, as a native Minnesotan, I keep hoping the Romney team picks Tim Pawlenty. It wouldn’t be the first time a Minnesotan got the nod, but he would be the first Republican from Minnesota to make it to the presidential ticket.
The problem is, I wonder if he’s tough enough for the bottom half of a Romney ticket. Pawlenty and Romney get along well but the Dakota County native may be too “nice” to fill the VP enforcer shoes worn by his potential predecessor Dick Cheney. (Also, I have to agree with the Skimm, Pawlenty may be too “boring.” )
When I was growing up in St. Paul, in the mid-20th century, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor party was a predominant political force. The DFL had a significant role in national Democratic Party’s politics and sent two of its senators -- Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale -- to the White House as Vice President.
Minnesota’s ideological roots are in “progressive agrarian reform, the protection of farmers and union workers, the public ownership of railroads, utilities, and natural resources, and social security legislation.” For decades most of the state’s governors, U.S. senators, and members of Congress were liberal Democrats or moderate Republicans. By the 1980’s Humphrey’s former Senate seat was occupied by moderate Republican David Durenberger, and Mondale’s was held by moderate Republican Rudy Boschwitz.
In 1999, both of the state’s major parties had become so poorly articulated that voters elected professional wrestler Jesse Ventura -- a “Reform Party” candidate -- to the State house.
Finally in 2003, when Ventura’s administration ended, Minnesota voters were ready to try a conservative Republican in the governor’s mansion and Tim Pawlenty (who Robert Novak once called “the most conservative Minnesota governor since Theodore ‘Tightwad Ted’ Christianson in the 1920s”) served as chief executive until 2011.
Though the state Republican party has a small presence in Washington, the Republican National Committee had enough confidence in Pawlenty’s potential that it chose him to host the last GOP presidential convention -- where his VP timber was considered, along with Romney’s, by Sen. John McCain’s campaign.
Which brings me to another political incongruity about my home state. For a place known for its niceness and progressiveness, it’s kind of surprising the only woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by Minnesotans is the tea party conservative Michele Bachmann.
McCain may have made a “mistake” in choosing Sarah Palin four years ago but no one can deny she made the 2008 GOP ticket exciting. Although like Palin, she’s something of a loose cannon, Bachmann could electrify the electorate in the same way for 2012.
Picture the click appeal of a convention 4-shot of Marcus and Ann, next to Mitt and Michelle, surrounded by streamers and bunting. Even if they fail to win the White House in November, in addition to the boost it would give Minnesota politics, a Romney Bachmann campaign could make history in so many other interesting ways.
Bonnie Goldstein is on Twitter @KickedByAnAngel.