Tim Pawlenty, Victor

Tim Pawlenty’s new ad for Iowa tells voters* about two staring contests that the governor won in Minnesota – a showdown with transit unions and a showdown with tax-loving Democrats. The story of the transit strike, told here by Katarina Trinko, is largely a story of Pawlenty victory, because he got the union to kill off retirement health care benefits for new hires. At the time, though, Pawlenty was humble about it. From Jack Sullivan’s story on the deal, “Tentative Transit Pact Hits a Bump,” from April 14, 2004.

For weeks, the union and its supporters had called on Pawlenty to wade into the dispute and help settle it, and it wasn’t until he met bargainers for the first time last Wednesday that either side reported any progress had been made. Despite that, Pawlenty downplayed his role in the settlement and said the time was right for a deal to be reached.

“I don’t think it’s fair for me to say my involvement was integral,” Pawlenty said.

*More fair to say that the most gravelly-voiced announcer this side of Tom Waits ever heard tells the story.