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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A NEW 2012 CONTENDER?

Minn. Gov. Pawlenty Rules Out Third Term

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) will not seek a third term in 2010, he announced Tuesday, clearing the way for an expected bid for the 2012 presidential nomination.

Pawlenty insisted in a news conference in St. Paul that he "could have and would have" won in 2010, adding, "I still have a lot of ideas and energy left." He did not directly address questions about whether he will run for president in 2012 but did note that he was "not ruling anything in or out."

Pawlenty, 48, recorded a hard-won victory in 2006, winning a three-way race with 51 percent of the vote. A loss in a 2010 reelection campaign would have greatly complicated his chances in a 2012 presidential campaign, as then-Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) learned in 2006.

His decision to forgo a third term also puts him under far less pressure to certify Democrat Al Franken as the winner in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race, should Republican Norm Coleman decide to continue his legal fight for the seat.

Pawlenty could refuse to sign the election certificate for Franken and continue to raise his national profile by arguing that he is simply trying to ensure that no legitimate votes are left uncounted -- a position sure to resonate among Republican-base voters.

-- Chris Cillizza

PMA INVESTIGATION

Ind. Congressman Relinquishes Post

Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), under federal investigation for his ties to a lobbying firm whose clients received tens of millions of dollars in funds with his help, stepped aside as chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee that controls spending on projects for the Energy Department.

It is unclear when Visclosky, who has now lost his top aide as a result of the probe, might resume full control of the subcommittee.

Federal investigators are probing Visclosky's ties to the now-shuttered Crystal City firm PMA Group, where his former chief of staff served as a top lobbyist for the previous five years. Visclosky earmarked, on his own, more than $34 million worth of projects to PMA clients in the fiscal 2008 and 2009 spending bills, according to an analysis by Taxpayers for Common Sense. Visclosky disclosed last week that his office and members of his staff has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury looking for documents related to PMA.

Over the past 12 years he has been the second-largest recipient of campaign contributions from PMA's political action committee, its employees and its clients -- more than $1.3 million in donations -- according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Visclosky's chief of staff, Charles Brimmer, has resigned from the office, according to Roll Call. Following House rules, Brimmer officially informed the chamber that he was the recipient of one of last week's subpoenas.

-- Paul Kane

REAGAN CENTENNIAL

Obama Creates Panel For 2011 Celebration

With former first lady Nancy Reagan by his side, President Obama created a commission to plan events that will honor former president Ronald Reagan on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Signing the bill in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, Obama was effusive in his praise of the former Republican president.

"President Reagan helped as much as any president to restore a sense of optimism in our country -- a spirit that transcended politics, that transcended even the most heated arguments of the day," Obama said. "It was this optimism that the American people sorely needed during a difficult period -- a period of economic and global challenges that tested us in unprecedented ways."

Obama also praised Nancy Reagan, describing her as a first lady who redefined the role and praising her work for stem cell research.

"There are few who are not moved by the love that Ms. Reagan felt for her husband -- and fewer still who are not inspired by how this love led her to take up the twin causes of stem cell research and Alzheimer's research," he said. "In saying a long goodbye, Nancy Reagan became a voice on behalf of millions of families experiencing the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer's disease."

The panel Obama established will have 11 members and plan events for Feb. 6, 2011.

-- Michael D. Shear

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR

Ex-U.S. Attorney Faces Corzine in November

Chris Christie, who served as a U.S. attorney under President George W. Bush, won the Republican gubernatorial primary in New Jersey, while Gov. Jon S. Corzine cruised to a victory in the Democratic primary.

Christie is trying to become the first Republican elected in a New Jersey statewide race since 1997.

A series of polls has shown him leading Corzine.

-- Associated Press

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