With its pick of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
as its new president, the Financial Services Roundtable
is doubling down on its reputation as a Republican-leaning lobbying group in the era of hyper partisanship and divided government.
While many big trade groups wait to name even mid-level lobbyists until after the post-election landscape becomes clear, the Roundtable has named one of the highest-profile Republicans in the country to head the new group more than a month before Election Day.
The move signals that the Roundtable, which represents some of the nation's biggest financial services companies, will continue to work closely with Republicans on its biggest agenda items, including rolling back key provisions in the Wall Street reform bill.
Pawlenty's national prominence as a former Republican presidential candidate and former national co-chair of Republican Mitt Romney's campaign (he stepped down upon accepting the job) will give him immediate cred with Republicans on the Hill. But his Washington outsider status will also give him the chance to build new relationships with Democrats.
Pawlenty takes over the $1.8 million a year job from former Republican Rep. Steve Bartlett. Under Bartlett, the Roundtable's PAC has always given more money to Republicans than Democrats, regardless of who controls Congress. So far this election cycle, it gave almost 70 percent of its campaign cash to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.