Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty Monday became the first major Republican candidate to form a presidential exploratory committee – a step that allows him to officially start raising funds for a campaign and to take concrete steps towards mounting a run for the GOP nomination next year.
In the latest CNN/Opinion Research Poll gauging Republicans’ choice for the GOP Nominee in 2012, Pawlenty ranks in the bottom tier of candidates garnering 3 percent of support. Polls this early in the contest, however, mostly reflect national name recognition.
“Thanks to low name recognition, Tim Pawlenty is without question the dark horse among the ‘Tier 1′ Republican presidential candidates. Pawlenty is wise to enter the GOP presidential sweepstakes early, because his fiscally conservative record as Minnesota’s governor and his blue-collar message will resonate with Republican primary voters, but only if they get to know him,” GOP consultant Ford O’Connell, who worked on the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign, said.
“There will be a formal announcement” later, a senior Republican official with knowledge of Pawlenty’s plans told CNN Monday.
The exploratory committee will be based in Minnesota, a source close to Pawlenty tells CNN.