There has been a recurring theme in recent missives from gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty: a particular focus on Democrat Tim Walz.
On multiple occasions in recent weeks, Pawlenty has targeted his emails and tweets at the DFL gubernatorial candidate.
He's hit Walz over daycare fraud, veterans votes, the ICE protests on the Blue Line, and a claim that Walz had answered in a questionnaire that he wanted to make Minnesota a "sanctuary state."
This might be expected in September, but we're currently in May and both Tims are by no means shoo-ins for their respective party nominations for the November election.
Pawlenty is facing a stiff challenge for the Republican ticket from former gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson at August's primaries.
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Yet Pawlenty has said little of his Republican opponent, who is the favorite to get the GOP endorsement at next month's convention, which Pawlenty has decided to skip due to his late entry to race.
Johnson on the other hand has targeted Pawlenty several times since the former governor confirmed he's running again – even getting an endorsement from Pawlenty's former Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, as well as arguing a Pawlenty candidacy would be damaging for the GOP in the video below.
It could be argued Pawlenty is making a calculating move by choosing now to hit Walz – a politician who has long straddled the Democrat/Republican divide in the politically diverse 1st District – at a time when he's trying to attract progressive voters.
If he leaves it until after Walz gets the nomination (if he wins), then Walz will be able to strike a more moderate tone as he reaches across the aisle to potential Republican swing voters.
This point was made by John Gilmore in the right-leaning Alpha News MN, but he noted that while the move could be a shrewd one, it could be viewed as presumptuous too.
It could also be a risk, given that in focusing his attacks on Walz, he's ignoring a more immediate threat to his gubernatorial aspirations in Johnson.
But Democrats think they'll be facing Pawlenty
On the Democratic side, Walz's nomination is not guaranteed despite him being arguably the favorite, after he won a straw poll of gubernatorial candidates at the February precinct caucuses.
He's facing challenges from more progressive candidates, State Auditor Rebecca Otto and State Rep. Erin Murphy, who have been picking up numerous endorsements in a year in which blue voters are expected to shift left.
The three front-running DFL candidates haven't been targeting each other in their public pronouncements, with their recent statements tending to be more ideologically- and- policy-themed.
But that's not to say the Democrats aren't following a similar trend to Pawlenty, as they have identified him, and not Johnson, as the Republican threat this November – much in the way Pawlenty has seemingly identified Walz as his likely DFL opponent.
In an announcement in which she said she would abide by the DFL endorsement, Murphy stated that a unified party is "critical to defeating Tim Pawlenty and winning in November."
Walz meanwhile targeted Pawlenty in a series of tweets last Wednesday.
Shrewd move too? Or are Minnesota's Democratic candidates at risk of making the same presumption as Pawlenty?