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Rep. Bernie Lieder of Crookston visits an Israeli museum, where he was honored as a soldier who helped rescue Jews during World War II. Submitted photo

Tim Pawlenty noticed nationwide

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ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans may think their media report on Tim Pawlenty's potential presidential run only because he is their home-state governor, but the Republican is getting plenty of attention nationwide.

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Online political writers have been watching Pawlenty closely. But so have traditional media reporters. Several national reporters attended his recent Iowa debut, along with about 10 Minnesota journalists and a few from Iowa.

Dan Balz, the Washington Post's big-name political reporter, is one example. He wrote a story indicating some top Republicans question Pawlenty's "instincts and his sure-footedness as a prospective 2012 presidential candidate."

Many observers say Pawlenty has tried to appear more conservative as he moves onto the national stage, but he told Balz: "In general, I've governed as a conservative in Minnesota, so being conservative isn't like a new development or a revelation."

Balz called what he sees as Pawlenty's movement to the right as "Romneyesque" because Mitt Romney in the last presidential race "lurched to the right in preparation for his presidential candidacy. ... The real risk for Pawlenty, as Romney learned in his unsuccessful 2008 campaign, is losing his true voice and his authenticity."

While Pawlenty refuses to say if he is really is running for president, he spoke to Iowa Republicans, and next month will visit New Hampshire. That takes care of the first two states to pick presidential favorites.

Pawlenty's out-of-state schedule continues to get more crowded. He is to headline an Alabama Republican dinner on Feb. 5. He was in Florida Friday and will be in Austin, Texas, in the coming days.

This summer and fall he spoke in South Dakota, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, California, Ohio, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Puerto Rico, New Jersey and Virginia.

Lieder visits

State Rep. Bernie Lieder toured Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Memorial and Museum, recalling his days in the Army when he helped free Jews from slave labor camps and aided survivors of a massacre.

Lieder, DFL-Crookston, was part of a Minnesota legislative delegation led by Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, that toured Israel and the West Bank. He laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.

Lieder, the final World War II veteran in the Minnesota Legislature, was in the 102nd Army Division that freed many from Nazi slave labor camps in Germany in 1944 and 1945. He also aided survivors after a massacre at Gardenlagen.

Unallotment debate

The argument over whether Gov. Tim Pawlenty had the legal right to unilaterally cut the state budget this summer, a procedure known as unallotment, returns to the surface Monday.

A House committee takes up a resolution that would add representatives to a court case challenging the governor's powers. On the same day, a Ramsey County judge hears a motion seeking to temporarily overturn Pawlenty's cuts until the court can hear the full case.

A handful of people who receive government financial assistance filed the lawsuit, saying Pawlenty overstepped legal and constitutional bounds. He made cuts in the state budget after he and Democratic legislative leaders failed to reach a deal on the two-year budget that began July 1.

Pawlenty has said he expects more legal challenges, but regularly says he will prevail.

MAPE for Kelliher

One of the state's biggest unions endorsed House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher for Minnesota governor.

The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees made that announcement, saying the Minneapolis Democrat is the most electable.

"We believe Speaker Kelliher's proven leadership skills and her ability to manage the state in difficult times make her the strongest candidate," union President Chet Jorgenson said. "Speaker Kelliher is willing to bring people together to solve problems in a crisis. She has a history of respect for state workers and the jobs they do."

Thirty-nine MAPE officials met with governor candidates for two days and picked Kelliher. The Union has more than 12,700 professional state employee members.

The state's biggest union, AFSME Council 5, endorsed former Sen. Mark Dayton.

Pork buy

Minnesota hog farmers are happy with one type of pork in Washington: a promise to buy $50 million worth of pork for federal food programs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is buying the pork -- as well as cherries, plums and apples -- to help those stressed industries.

"Minnesota's pork producers are struggling under tough economic conditions and misinformation spread about the H1N1 virus," Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said. "Having the USDA purchase these fine products will go a long way towards stabilizing prices and improving the bottom line for Minnesota farmers. There's still work to be done to make sure our pork producers can count on a stable marketplace. I'll continue working to make sure China keeps its word to open up that trade route."

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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