Pawlenty, Penny unite behind McCain
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and one of his 2002 gubernatorial opponents find themselves united behind a potential presidential candidacy. Tim Penny, the former southern Minnesota Democratic congressman who ran for governor under the Independence Party bann...
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and one of his 2002 gubernatorial opponents find themselves united behind a potential presidential candidacy.
Tim Penny, the former southern Minnesota Democratic congressman who ran for governor under the Independence Party banner, said he plans to work on behalf of Republican Sen. John McCain if he runs for president.
Pawlenty recently was named co-chairman of the Arizona senator's presidential exploratory committee.
"I guess this means that Pawlenty and I are going to have to learn to work together," Penny quipped in an interview. He has been critical of Pawlenty's governing.
Penny said he is seeking "behind-the-scenes" campaign work, such as trying to drum up support for McCain in key states. Pawlenty will have a more direct role in the potential candidacy.
"And certainly, at some stage, between Pawlenty and myself I expect that we will be doing what we can to move Minnesota into the McCain column," Penny said.
Both view McCain as a "real leader who can bridge the partisan divide" in Washington, Penny said.
Not so nice?
Some Minnesota Republican lawmakers were heard grousing Wednesday after Gov. Tim Pawlenty's State of the State address.
They could not understand why Democrats did not applaud the Republican governor very often. But in interviews, many Democrats actually praised Pawlenty.
"I was encouraged by the governor's speech," Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said.
Many Democrats picked at pieces of the speech, but overall they gave it good reviews. Many were surprised Pawlenty did not talk about transportation funding, an issue many policy makers list in the state's top five needs.
Look to Europe
Minnesota should look to other countries, as well as within the United States, to decide how to best reform highs schools, one of the Minnesota Legislature's most veteran members advises.
Rep. Mike Jaros, DFL-Duluth, said his education in Eastern Europe made sense because it offered students a choice of college preparation, vocational-technical or commercial courses. But Jaros also suggested looking at the Finland school system, widely regarded as one of the best in the world.
He warned Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other policymakers not to rush into reinventing the high school until they study what is going on elsewhere.
Americans sometimes wonder if there is any such thing as a modest politician, but Sen. Jim Vickerman appeared to almost blush Wednesday after Gov. Tim Pawlenty mentioned him in the State of the State address.
Pawlenty used the speech to plug a military veterans' package he and Vickerman collaborated on.
"I was very surprised," Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, said later in an ah-shucks manner. "That bill is for all of us."
Vickerman admitted he probably will have to settle for something less than the package's $75 million price tag for tax cuts and other veterans' benefits.
A Friday U.S. House hearing held important implications for Minnesota, Rep. Jim Oberstar said.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held its first hearing of the year, with Oberstar at the helm, and discussed the Water Resources Development Act, which would fund projects such as dredging parts of the Great Lakes to improve shipping and updating Mississippi River locks and dams. The Friday hearing focused on a loan program that helps cities upgrade drinking water and sewage systems.
A major water bill is overdue, Oberstar said. "For one reason or another, the previous three Congresses have not been able to get it enacted. We're going to do that in this Congress."
Oberstar, D-Minn., said he expects his committee to send a dozen major bills to the full House by Feb. 19. He took over as chairman when Democrats took control of the House this year.