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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published June 23 2012

Pawlenty near top of list for vice president, but ...

St. Paul - More and more discussion centers on Tim Pawlenty becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate, but at the same time, Ron Paul supporters are considering derailing traditional Republicans like the former Minnesota governor.

Pawlenty gradually has changed his tune about whether he is interested in running for vice president.

Last August, as soon as he left the presidential race, he said he was not interested in being vice president. He often repeated that, telling Minnesota reporters he already went through the process with John McCain’s campaign four years ago, finishing behind Sarah Palin, and did not want to do it again.

Now, when asked, he often says it is not something the campaign discusses, but says anyone “would be honored to serve.” Lately, he adds: “including me.”

Pawlenty is a co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s campaign.

Nationally known political scientist Larry Sabato puts Pawlenty in the No. 2 spot for vice president, behind U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and just ahead of U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.

Sabato, who teaches at the University of Virginia, says Pawlenty’s pluses include that he was governor and he is a vetted and safe candidate.

Pawlenty’s downsides include that he probably cannot carry Minnesota and he “bombed” as a presidential candidate, Sabato wrote on his blog.

But while Pawlenty’s name is rising in some circles, the Huffington Post reports that Paul, a Texas congressman, could be nominated for vice president at the GOP national convention instead of the person Romney wants.

Paul loyalists control the Minnesota, Iowa and Maine delegations and have a significant presence in other states.

“Such a move would transform a symbolic procedure that has taken mere minutes in the past several conventions into a chaotic and time-consuming spectacle that could eat up the better portion of a day,” the Post reports. “Not only would such a floor fight step all over the message of party unity and strength that the Romney campaign hopes to drive through the convention, it would also open the door for alternatives to Romney’s choice to gain momentum and further drive the process off the rails.”

Fighting invasives

Minnesota officials say they are cracking down on boaters who do not thoroughly clean their equipment.

The Department of Natural Resources reports that 20 percent of boaters violate laws designed to keep invasive species from moving from one water body to another.

“This rate is unacceptable,” said Maj. Phil Meier, DNR Enforcement Division operations manager. “The majority of violations could have been avoided if people had taken the time to change their routine when leaving lakes and rivers, and comply with AIS (aquatic invasive species) laws.”

Extra DNR patrols will continue through the summer as officials fight a variety of invasive species that take resources away from native species.

Through early June, conservation officers issued 193 criminal citations and 463 civil citations, the DNR reported. Also, officers issued more than 1,200 warnings.

All last year, about 850 citations and warnings were issued.

Minnesota law makes it illegal to transport invasive aquatic plants and animals, as well as water, from water bodies infested with zebra mussels and spiny water fleas. Violators could face fines up to $500, a figure that in some cases will double July 1.

Boaters must drain bait buckets, bilges and live wells before leaving a water access; remove plants from boats and boat trailers; pull the boat plug to drain all water back to where it came; and keep the drain plug out while moving the boat on roads.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications