Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) on Wednesday said he won't endorse Republican candidates running in "open, transparent" primaries in 2010.
Pawlenty, who is a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, spoke with the New Hampshire Union Leader a day before he is scheduled to visit the state.
Pawlenty took sides in the recent controversial special congressional election in New York’s 23rd District, backing Conservative Party nominee Douglas Hoffman over liberal GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava. Pawlenty said he did so because local party bosses used an “incredibly flawed, insular, closed and unfair” process” to chose the nominee. And he said Scozzafava was far too liberal on key issues.
But Pawlenty said he will not endorse or have his PAC contribute to the campaigns of any candidates for the U.S. Senate or House who are in “open, transparent” primary campaigns, including the tough GOP Senate primary battle shaping up for 2010 in New Hampshire.
Pawlenty's announcement comes as several GOP open-seat primaries have already split the conservative base and the Republican establishment.
But many grassroots conservatives favor former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) over Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Fla.) in the state's Senate primary.
State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Calif.) has also attracted the support of some grassroots while Republicans in Washington mostly favor ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina (R-Calif.) in the state's Senate primary.
Meanwhile in New Hampshire, former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) will Republican businessmen Jim Bender and William Binnie, and former state Board of Education chairman Ovide Lamontagne (R).
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has set up joint fundraising committees for Fiorina and Ayotte but has not formally endorsed them. The NRSC endorsed Crist earlier this year.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), another potential 2012 candidate, has already endorsed Rubio over Crist in Florida.