Tim J. Pawlenty Biography

Born in 1960, Timothy James Pawlenty grew up in a working-class family in South St. Paul. He attended the University of Minnesota, where he earned an undergraduate degree in political science as well as a law degree.

Pawlenty interned at Senator David Durenberger's office in 1980 and worked on Durenberger's re-election campaigns in 1982 and 1988. While working at a Minneapolis-based law firm, he won a seat on the Eagan city council in 1989. In 1992, voters elected Pawlenty to the state's House of Representatives where he served five terms, becoming majority leader in 1999.

In 2002, Pawlenty ran for governor as a social and fiscal conservative, winning a four-way race with 44 percent of the vote. When he took office, a large budget deficit loomed. Yet he made good on a campaign promise to balance the budget without raising taxes. Narrowly re-elected in 2006, Pawlenty faced a DFL-controlled legislature. Controversies over budgets and taxes ensued.

Pawlenty succeeded in efforts to reform education policy, restructure health care, limit government spending, make Minnesota a leader in renewable energy production, and end indoor smoking in public places. During his years as governor, the state saw the largest-ever overseas deployment of National Guard soldiers and airmen. Pawlenty made several trips to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait to support Minnesotans serving abroad. He also backed the construction of Target Field, the Northstar Commuter Rail Line, and helped ensure the speedy rebuilding of the l-35W bridge over the Mississippi River after its tragic collapse in 2007. In 2007-2008, he served as chair of the National Governors Association.

Pawlenty's gubernatorial record attracted widespread attention. His reputation as a conservative who could succeed in a state with a liberal bent made him a potential GOP vice-presidential nominee in 2008. In 2011, Pawlenty officially sought the Republican Party's nomination for president of the United States. After leaving the race, he served as co-chair of eventual nominee Mitt Romney's campaign. In 2012, Pawlenty became president and chief executive officer of Financial Services Roundtable, an advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.