Tim Pawlenty had originally planned to seek the US Senate in 2002. Several national Republican leaders including Vice President Dick Cheney, asked him to step aside to allow Norm Coleman to challenge Paul Wellstone. Pawlenty then decided to run for governor.
He campaigned in 2002 on a pledge not to raise taxes to balance the state's budget deficit. He also supported requiring visa expiration dates on driver licenses, a 24 hour waiting period on abortions, changing the state's conceal carry gun law and changing the state's education requirements. During the 2003 session, all these issues were passed except the "expiration dates on driver licenses". Like his predecessor Governor Jesse Ventura, he has a weekly call in radio show.