Pawlenty’s Catch 22 In The Hawkeye State

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Giving your opinion on the decision’s of judges when you’re the Governor should be the norm in a political landscape in which legislating from the bench has become a hot button topic for many. However, when that critique is aimed at a state that you re not the Governor of, it may become political ammunition. When that state happens to be the state that kicks off the run for Presidential aspirations, it may be toxic. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty may have found himself in a catch 22 over comment made regarding the possible ousting of 3 Iowa Supreme Court justices who recently ruled that Iowa’s law banning gay marriage was against the state constitution.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Pawlenty said he would need to study the justices’ record before deciding whether to join the effort, but that voters have the right to remove judges if they disagree with their rulings.

“The notion that judges stand for election is embedded in the Iowa Constitution. It’s embedded in the Minnesota Constitution,” Pawlenty said. “It’s the right and privilege of the citizens of this state and my state to weigh in on whether they like or don’t like the job that a judge is doing and to agree or disagree with him.” Asked about a campaign organized by Sioux City business consultant Bob Vander Plaats – who failed in his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination – to remove the justices, Pawlenty stressed that he supports limiting marriage to one man and one woman. “I think the law should support that, and to the extent you have judges inserting their personal views to change that, I don’t like it,” Pawlenty said.

While this may help Pawlenty in his bid for the Republican nomination, it is a position that could come back to haunt him if he should be his parties nominee in the general election. In a primary he will be vying for the conservative vote that propels the Republican party. The general election tends to be about not who can get the vote of their own party, but who can get the vote of the undecided voters. As party voters usually support their parties candidate regardless, the independent voter, one not bound to party politics or candidates, becomes key to winning in the general election.

Hence the Catch 22 that Governor Pawlenty may have unwittingly thrust himself into. Should a candidate who is not well known outside of his own state and party throw himself into a position of taking a position on a hot button topic so early into the process? Let alone in the state which will have the all important first voice of the election? Not to mention a state in which his standing as the Governor of a neighboring state leaves many Iowan’s scratching their head as to why the Governor of Minnesota would make public his opinion on the affairs of their state.

The question will be asked and to that point the Governor’s statement will become a topic of debate should he decide to run in 2012. But for a candidate who received a mere 1% in recent polls to weigh in on a state issue of a border state that happens to hold the early key to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, maybe the question didn’t need answered in the manner in which it was. As many Iowan’s simply hope Minnesota keeps it’s opinions to itself, many independent voters may have already made up their mind before an official candidacy has had a chance to kick off.

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