Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty jabbed at unions on Monday as part of an effort to paint himself as a reform-minded Republican as he moves toward a possible run for president.
Pawlenty penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal promoting his actions as governor to try and force public labor unions in particular to agree to reforms.
"The majority of union members today no longer work in construction, manufacturing or 'strong back' jobs," Pawlenty wrote. "They work for government, which, thanks to President Obama, has become the only booming 'industry' left in our economy."
Pawlenty's a former union member who drifted away from Democratic politics to become a Republican governor of a traditionally blue state. He's now eyeing a run for the presidency in 2012, and has sought to cast himself as a reform-minded leader on labor issues.
When former Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty, for instance, lost his Democratic primary reelection battle earlier this year, Pawlenty issued a statement lamenting how Fenty's loss meant a blow for school reform and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who'd clashed often with unions.
"If we're going to stop the government unions' silent coup, conservative reformers around the country must fight this challenge head on," Pawlenty wrote. "The choice between big government and everyday Americans isn't a hard one."