Yes, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota was in Little Rock last night as the keynote speaker at the Republican of Party of Arkansas’ big annual fundraising dinner. If you didn’t hear much about it, fear not, as very little news broke out.
AP reporter Andrew Demillo asked Pawlenty about South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and his spicy affair, to which Pawlenty offered a fairly pat response. Blogger Jason Tolbert got video, naturally.
(Tolbert notes that he and I attended the media availability session prior to the dinner, but he gives me too much credit. It was really more like Jason was attending the media availability and I happened to stroll by on my way to the cash bar and noticed it kicking off, so I lingered around for a bit.)
But Pawlenty gave a nice little pep rally speech to the crowd, which probably numbered around 400 people. Having attended last year’s event, I’m pretty sure that this year’s crowd was quite a bit larger, which was a reassuring sign.
A lot of potential candidates in the crowd, including most of the U.S. Senate hopefuls (I think—I really can’t keep track of them anymore) and lots of state legislative hopefuls. First District congressional candidate Rick Crawford got to be the hero of the evening when he swung down to Memphis on his way to Little Rock to collect Pawlenty at the airport, after the governor’s flight was delayed.
So attendance was fairly solid, though I always have trouble understanding why the Arkansas GOP insists on charging so much money for these things. $125 a ticket? That’s steep. Why not slash the ticket prices, putting the costs in the reach of more people, and maybe packing the room for a show of strength and getting more people involved in the cause? Surely I’m not the first person to ask this.
Beats me. But then I’m probably the wrong guy to ask, since I didn’t pay for my ticket anyway and was only there because I managed to scam a freebie off Greenberg.