In the Spotlight

News & Features
More from MPR

Your Voice

DocumentNews Forum: Did this election speak for you and your hopes for Minnesota?

Pawlenty names Weaver to head transition team
Larger view
Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty has appointed state Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver to lead his transition team. Weaver is a criminal prosecutor and former five-term state Republican representative from Anoka. (MPR Photo/Laura McCallum)
Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty is taking the first steps towards building his new administration. Pawlenty has announced that Public Safety commissioner Charlie Weaver will lead the effort to recruit the agency heads and commissioners necessary to run state government. And Senate Republicans are also organizing for an expanded role at the Capitol. They've re-elected Dick Day of Owatonna as minority leader.

St. Paul, Minn. — Pawlenty says his first order of business will be to tackle the state's anticipated deficit, which some expect could swell to $3 billion by the time he's sworn in in January.

Pawlenty, who ran on a no-new-taxes pledge, says he's especially eager to hire new commissioners for the departments of finance and revenue; key players in developing a new, two-year budget plan.

He says he wants his administration to continue the themes of his campaign, but he says he'll consider candidates from a diverse pool of applicants.

Larger view
Image Gov.-elect Pawlenty

"I will say: I'm a Republican governor. Republicans, generally, have a good source of talent. But we are not going to have that as a litmus test. You will see the administration overall reflect my philosophy and direction. And you will see many people who are appointed who are Republicans. But the door will also be open to some independents and perhaps even some Democrats," he said.

Pawlenty's first pick is Charlie Weaver, former Anoka County attorney, former Republican lawmaker, and -- for the past four years -- Gov. Jesse Ventura's public safety commissioner. Weaver will assist Pawlenty in screening applicants, setting a direction for the next four years.

Weaver says the transition period is crucial to the eventual success of the new administration. "If I do my job right in the next 60 days, hire top-notch people who are committed to Tim's vision, who are, as Tim said, change-agents, are creative, have integrity, are prepared to go to work, that's going to determine the success of this administration."

Ironically, the Pawlenty team is handicapped by budget-cutting measures the governor-elect himself helped pass into law. Pawlenty will receive $10,000 of state assistance -- a fraction of what other newly elected governors have received -- to make the leap into office. He says he'll consider accepting donations to help fund the transition.

"We've got to make sure it's all legal and appropriate. And so the lawyers are looking at that. That's one option. We have volunteers in the near-term working on the transition. And there was $10,000 made available to us by the Department of Administration. So we're using that to hire some basic staff," he said.

While Pawlenty builds the executive office, Senate Republicans are also organizing. Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna held off a challenge from Dave Knutson of Burnsville to remain minority leader. Day oversaw an impressive gain in Senate seats for the Republicans. Although still in the minority, Day says the narrow DFL advantage means Republicans will wield greater leverage than ever.

"The make-up of the state is more conservative than the DFL caucus. And we think that they will have some greater Minnesota people and some suburb people that very well will vote with us on a lot of issues. So we think there's a little dynamic that's changing here," Day said.

The other legislative caucuses are also forming ranks for next year's legislative session. Senate Democrats picked John Hottinger of St. Peter to replace outgoing Majority Leader Roger Moe. House DFLers tapped Matt Entenza of St. Paul to guide their caucus.

News Headlines
Related Subjects