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EDITORIAL: Don’t lose focus on Minnesota

There is pride for Minnesotans in having, quite possibly, a serious contender for the nation’s highest office. But there’s a possible downside, too, which needs to be watched.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has not yet said that he plans to run for president, but he has given every indication that his intention is to do so. He has made himself increasingly prominent in national politics, he has begun to appear on national television programs and he has begun to do fund-raising (albeit for others, so far) in the presidential belweather states of New Hampshire and Iowa. Like every smart politician, the governor is not likely to announce his candidacy until the time is just right.

Minnesota has a proud history of sending candidates into national politics and it has generally been to Minnesotans’ credit and benefit when that happens. But there’s a downside, which is that elected officials who are focusing on the next big prize may find it difficult to pay as much attention to their day jobs — in this case, governing the state — as they ought to. The governor’s business is often light at this time of year, but it is certainly not non-existent, and Minnesotans have a right to expect that their governor will tend to business at home as a priority.

It is a credit to Minnesota’s clean government and generally straight-forward politics that a national candidate may again step forward from this state. Just so the “next big thing” doesn’t interfere with the current business of government.