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October 7th, 2009

Gov. Tim Pawlenty Heads to Iowa

tim_pawlentyA week after Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty hired a trio of GOP consultants with presidential experience, there is news that Pawlenty is scheduled to be in the state next month to raise money for the Republican Party of Iowa. Governor Pawlenty will headline an RPI fundraiser on Saturday, November 7th in Des Moines.

Two of the political operatives that Pawlenty hired are Iowa natives with deep political roots – Sara Taylor and Terry Nelson. Both Taylor and Nelson have vast knowledge of the Iowa caucuses, and they appreciate the ability the caucuses have to catapult a candidate like Pawlenty to frontrunner status.

While Iowa has already seen numerous potential presidential candidates like Haley Barbour, George Pataki, John Ensign, and Rick Santorum, visit the state this year, Pawlenty is the first potential 2012 candidate who is actually already building a campaign structure to come to the state. In Iowa, starting early has a lot of benefits.

With Mitt Romney’s avoidance of Iowa after coming in second to Mike Huckabee in the 2008 caucuses, Pawlenty will be unchecked if he aggressively starts to organize the state. In traveling around the state to conservative or Republican events, one thing is clear – people are already looking for a leader or alternative voice to President Obama. In Iowa, there is no such thing as starting too early.

While Mitt Romney obviously feels scorned by Iowa caucus-goers, he did a number of things right in building his last caucus campaign. In fact, if you are looking for a blueprint on how to build a caucus campaign, you could do a lot worse than following what Romney did in Iowa between 2003 and July of 2007.

Romney began to build his Iowa network during the 2004 election cycle. In 2004, Romney’s Commonwealth PAC made contributions totaling $58,000 to legislative candidates and state and county political party organizations. Legislative candidates and county central committees often have a difficult time raising money to fund their operations. Needless to say, when a potential presidential candidate shows up out of the blue with a check for $500 or $1000, they take notice.

Contributions like these help legislative candidates pay for radio or TV ads. For county organizations, a $500 or $1000 contribution is like winning the lottery. It helps them rent a storefront for their county headquarters, hire part-time staff, or put in phone lines. These candidates and activists also don’t forget this generosity. Many legislators ultimately endorsed Romney in the caucuses, and a lot of county party activists supported his campaign as well.

Romney’s problem in Iowa wasn’t the campaign he was able to put together, it was the inconsistencies of candidate himself. This is probably why Romney has basically ignored the state since January 3, 2008. Governor Pawlenty has a solid conservative record and will not have to overcome the obstacles that prevented Romney from being successful in Iowa.

Iowans should expect to see a lot more of the neighboring Governor from the north. With the creation of his Freedom First leadership PAC, it is likely that Governor Pawlenty will be “helping” candidates and county organizations very soon. Mitt Romney set quite the precedent for creating a blueprint and timeline to build an extensive Iowa campaign. Potential 2012 candidates would be foolish to discredit it just because Romney didn’t win the Iowa caucuses.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to win the Iowa caucuses; it takes hard work and time. Governor Pawlenty’s recent moves and planned visit to Iowa show that he is willing to do both.

Event Details

Republican Party of Iowa
Leadership Iowa Event

Saturday, November 7th
5:30 p.m. – General Reception
6:00 p.m. – Program

Iowa State Fairgrounds
Elwell Family Center
Des Moines, Iowa

Call the Republican Party of Iowa at 515-282-8105 for ticket information.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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