GOP supporters waited long into the night to celebrate Pawlenty win
ST. PAUL -- The Sheraton Hotel ballroom in Bloomington, Minn., was a pretty glum place Tuesday night. It was the election night headquarters for Minnesota Republicans, who had little to cheer about. Until 1:49 a.m. Wednesday, at least. That is wh...
ST. PAUL -- The Sheraton Hotel ballroom in Bloomington, Minn., was a pretty glum place Tuesday night.
It was the election night headquarters for Minnesota Republicans, who had little to cheer about. Until 1:49 a.m. Wednesday, at least. That is when a check mark appeared by Gov. Tim Pawlenty's picture on a giant television screen in the front of the room. The media had just called the governor's race in favor of the GOP incumbent.
Wild cheering erupted among the couple hundred Republican faithful who remained into the wee hours. "Four more years" was the first cheer that erupted.
"Against all odd we were able to retain Tim Pawlenty," Minnesota Republican Chairman Ron Carey said.
Carey said he was disappointed to lose the state House majority and the three statewide office races other than governor.
However, with Pawlenty in office, Carey said, Republicans "are going to be able to make sure the Democrats aren't going to be able to enact their liberal agenda."
Pawlenty was much more diplomatic when he took the stage an hour later -- to the grumbling of supporters who didn't think he should have made them wait so long for his victory speech. The governor then, and later in the week, said he would seek common ground with Democrats running the Legislature.
U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman said last week's resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was a good thing.
"The resounding message of (Tuesday's) election was change, and change in the leadership at the Department of Defense is a good thing," the Minnesota Democrat-turned-Republican said. "In fact, I believe this change should have occurred before the election."
When Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty met the press on Thursday, one reporter asked about talk nationally that he has regained his position on the list as a potential vice presidential candidate.
"My wife said I was on a different list," Pawlenty deadpanned, to the delight of campaign-weary reporters.
Turning serious, the governor said that he will stick to his pre-election promise to finish his new four-year term, meaning he would not be available for the 2008 elections. Another Minnesotan who is discussed as a possible vice presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, also has taken himself out of the running, saying he will seek re-election instead.
Defeated Democratic governor candidate Mike Hatch said he did not like the negative tone of many Minnesota campaign commercials.
"I had to turn off the TV," he said. "My golden retrievers were quite upset."