New Orleans, LA–In a surprise political move, Connecticut State Republican Chairman Chris Healy will soon endorse former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty for the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination. Healy, who is attending the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, confirmed to HUMAN EVENTS last night that he met with Pawlenty and his top political team in Minneapolis earlier in the week and that an official announcement of support would be forthcoming.
The backing of Pawlenty by Healy was particularly significant, since members of the Republican National Committee–committeemen and committeewomen, as well as state chairmen–traditionally remain neutral in the nomination process. In backing the Minnesotan, Healy becomes one of the only RNC members to take sides in the presidential contest so far.
“I like Gov. Pawlenty and feel his brand of conservatism and record of fiscal management could make Connecticut competitive in a presidential election for the first time since 1988,” said Healy, referring to the last time a Republican presidential nominee (George H.W. Bush) carried the electoral votes of the Nutmeg State. Four years ago, Healy secured then-Gov. Pawlenty as the speaker at the annual Prescott Bush Dinner that is the Connecticut GOP’s biggest fund-raising event.
Healy spoke to us shortly after attending a private reception for Newt Gingrich, one of Pawlenty’s rivals for the ’12 nomination and the SLRC speaker Thursday evening. Of Gingrich, Healy said: “Hey, I love the guy. He can excite the troops and come up with some of the best ideas of modern conservatism. But I just don’t think he’s the right fit for the party going up against Barack Obama. But whatever we come up with in terms of a national agenda, I sure hope Newt is part of the mix.”
On the same day Healy endorsed Pawlenty, the Republican long considered his successor to the party helm, suddenly ended his candidacy. With former State Sen. Bill Aniskovich now out of the running for chairman, Healy is expected to come under strong pressure to seek another term. Healy has been involved in conservative causes and candidates since he was in grammar school in New York and handed out leaflets for Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in 1964 and William F. Buckley’s race for mayor of New York on the Conservative Party ticket in ’65. Long active in Connecticut GOP politics, Healy ran John McCain’s campaign for Republican Presidential nominee in the 2000 Connecticut primary.