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Complaints a-Pawlenty

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said the recent ouster of state Republican Party Chairman Ron Eibensteiner was not as much of a rebuke of Pawlenty as observers may originally have believed.

“I talked to most of the delegates [to the state GOP convention] and it was a hodge podge of stuff” that led to Eibensteiner’s defeat, Pawlenty said in an interview Wednesday.

Pawlenty supported Eibensteiner’s re-election, and when the central committee opted to crown Ron Carey chairman, tongues started wagging that it was a not-very-subtle jab at Pawlenty, who has taken guff from Republicans for a proposal to impose a “health impact fee” on cigarettes as a way to balance the state’s budget.

Pawlenty does not deny that his proposal, and another involving American Indian casinos, both of which Eibensteiner embraced, had a hand in the chairman’s defeat. But delegates had different complaints, ranging from charges that Eibensteiner did not nurture the grass roots enough to old grievances about local races and party expenditures — things that naturally will accumulate when someone has been chairman for six years, Pawlenty said.

Nonetheless, he conceded that some delegates, “were trying to send a message to me.”

Ourso, Moreso. Ourso Beychok, a Democratic direct-mail firm based in Baton Rouge, La. has hired a new partner and changed its name.

Wooten Johnson has come on board to make the firm Ourso Beychok Johnson Inc. Johnson most recently served the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as its Southern political director and political director of its incumbent protection program.

Johnson has experience in North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and Mississippi politics and served as chief of staff to Louisiana Rep. Rodney Alexander before Alexander became a Republican.

Too Close for Comfort. It seems that everybody who hopes to succeed Rep. Jim Davis (D-Fla.) wants their competitors really close.

A historic building in Ybor City, near Tampa, houses the campaigns of Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor and state Sen. Les Miller, the St. Petersburg Times reported earlier this week.

Attorney Scott Farrell wanted to hang his campaign shingle there as well but Miller “got wind of it the other day and put the kibosh on Farrell’s lease,” the paper reported.

Poaching? Former Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse has hired a state finance director out from under his opponent for the Democratic Senate nomination.

Vivian Spencer, who served in the same capacity on Whitehouse’s failed 2002 gubernatorial bid, has signed on with his Senate effort, the Providence Journal reported.

Recently Spencer was deputy director of the business development division and an outreach coordinator for Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown (D), who is also hoping to challenge Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) next year. When Whitehouse was attorney general, she headed up the office’s consumer protection unit.

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