Minneapolis -- At some point between here and the 4th of September, John McCain will choose a running mate. One of the names being bandied about is that of Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota.
I believe I speak for the majority of Minnesotans (and Tim Pawlenty has never been elected Governor of Minnesota by a true majority - only by a plurality) when I beg you: Please, do it, Senator McCain. Choose Governor Pawlenty. Put him on the ticket. Get him to hell out of here.
Thanks to his, "No new taxes" stance and his, "Borrow, don't bond," approach to financing, his two terms in office have been one unmitigated disaster for the state.
Tuition at state colleges and universities has gone up at double digit rates. Minnesota towns and cities have seen state funding (local government aid) cut drastically.
As a result, local property taxes have skyrocketed. So have fees for state-provided services.
Absent adequate financial support from the state, elementary schools are closing. Class sizes (elementary and secondary) are increasing year after year. Elective courses are disappearing even as larger urban schools face the challenges of assimilating new immigrants who speak new languages.
Chafing from those increasing property taxes (caused by Governor Pawlenty's no-new-taxes, and pass-the-buck legerdemain) homeowners are voting down school board referendums and taking big divots out of their communities' quality of life.
We used to be proud of our schools. Like Garrison Keillor says, all the children around here are above average. A little more Governor Pawlenty, though, and these schools will have us looking like Alabama -- only with 50-below-zero wind chills.
The highways are crumbling because Governor Pawlenty didn't want to raise taxes or float bonds to fund repairs or maintain infrastructure. Borrowing the money is evidently okay. That way he can continue to tell Fox News he didn't raise taxes.
Highway and infrastructure maintenance is a year-over-year thing. The repairs you didn't do last year are compounded by those you're not doing this year. The repairs you're not going to do next add their weight until it's almost enough to make a bridge collapse.
Speaking of collapsed bridges,after the 35 W bridge went into the drink last fall, Governor Pawlenty said he would consider a nickel-a-gallon gasoline tax increase. He vetoed a bill containing just such an increase earlier this week.
The legislature overrode it. There will now be money to tackle the state-wide problems Governor Pawlenty has compounded, if not caused. There will be jobs. People will take the money they earn and spend it on Main Street. The people on Main Street will take the money and spend it again -- a process that helps everyone in recessionary times.
Six brave Republicans crossed the aisle to help override the veto. Ever civil and gracious, Governor Pawlenty's allies -- the Republican leaders in the legislature stripped the six of seniority and committee positions within hours of the vote to override.
No governor in the history of Minnesota has been so polarizing, so myopic, or so hard-hearted.
Minnesota is a state that, until recently, had a rich tradition of collegial and civil politics. Republicans and Democrats worked together for the benefit of the entire state.
Eugene McCarthy once told me that the biggest contributor to his last run for the presidency of the United States was the late Elmer L. Andersen -- a truly visionary Republican Governor of Minnesota, and member of the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota.
Elmer Andersen's genius was to see the wisdom of investing in government. He said good government was a bargain. And it was.
A decade after he left office, the photogenic young Governor of Minnesota, (and former U of M hockey player) Wendell R. Anderson was on the cover of Time Magazine. He was wearing a plaid shirt and holding a northern pike. There was a canoe in the background. The headline talked about, "The Minnesota Miracle." The article touted the quality of life in the land of 10,000 Lakes.
McCarthy and Anderson weren't the only Democrats who owed Elmer L. Andersen a debt of thanks. You can add Humphrey, Mondale and a college professor from Northfield named Wellstone to the list. And while you're at it, add millions of Minnesotans, Democratic and Republican, who lived safer, healthier, and more productive lives because Andersen governed intelligently.
Governor Andersen once told me that Tim Pawlenty came to him and asked for his endorsement for governor. Andersen, arguably the greatest and most effective Minnesota Republican of the Twentieth Century, refused. Enough said.
Pawlenty has won election twice. In both cases by a plurality, not a majority. In both cases, a third party siphoned off enough votes for him to win. It's the same fluky thing that got Jesse Ventura elected, and we have suffered mightily for it.
So take Governor Pawlenty, Senator McCain. Please.
Governor Pawlenty doesn't raise taxes. And, with the war in Iraq plus the $3.1 trillion budget President Bush just submitted, God knows a tax increase is the last thing we'll ever need.