Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s stamp is all over Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s announcement today that she will leave office at the end of the month. Media reports (video) aren’t failing to note the parallel to Pawlenty’s decision last month not to seek re-election. Palin and Pawlenty were reportedly the two finalists for the Republican vice-presidential slot in last year’s election, and both governors are said to be gunning for the top of the GOP ticket in 2012.
Want to see Palin’s presentation live — rambling from lame duck governors to supporting our troops to what we can learn from Trig to basketball to her parents’ refrigerator magnet? Check out the video at Daily Kos.
Pawlenty’s term won’t end until a new governor replaces him in early 2011. Palin said today she’ll quit July 26 and won’t seek re-election as governor.
Palin already has formed a leadership PAC, a national political fundraising group; Pawlenty has been advised to do so if he’s serious about seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
Both governors like to travel, but Pawlenty has an easier time of it from his home base in the center of the country. Palin has been hamstrung by her distant location far north of the lower 48 states — a handicap her resignation will resolve — and by a propensity to court scandal in her spending on trips and other items.
Pawlenty has so far been careful to characterize his trips out of state as being prompted by invitations to speak, and his press office makes sure to explain that expenses are covered by the sponsoring group, not Minnesota taxpayers.
Two other Republican presidential aspirants took steps nearly in tandem — but backwards — in recent weeks: Sen. John Ensign of Nevada and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford announced extramarital affairs that appeared to doom their White House hopes.
Palin has a much higher profile than Pawlenty, and a stronger grip on the conservative base still essential to Republican support. But that didn’t stop a speaker at last year’s Republican National Convention in St. Paul from calling her “Sarah Pawlenty.”